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Why Shares of TrueCar Are Down Over 14% Today

By John Rosevear - Jun 3, 2019 at 12:32PM

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A surprise retirement has investors worried.

What happened

Shares of online car-shopping service TrueCar (TRUE -0.64%) fell sharply on Monday morning after the company announced that its CEO, Chip Perry, has retired. 

As of noon EDT, TrueCar's shares were trading at $5.59, down 14.2% from Friday's close.

So what

The announcement was a surprise, and not in a good way. The well-regarded Perry joined TrueCar in 2015 after a long stint as CEO of car-classified site AutoTrader. He replaced company founder Scott Painter, who was ousted after a surprise loss that exposed poor execution by the company's senior leadership.

The entrance to TrueCar's headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

Image source: TrueCar.

Perry was brought in to try to restore order -- and growth -- to TrueCar. He impressed investors early on by successfully patching up frayed relationships with new-car dealers and distribution partners. By the end of 2016, the company appeared to be solidly back on track. But it hit a major speed bump in mid-2017 when a key referral partner redesigned its website in a way that drastically reduced TrueCar's traffic. 

Recovering from that speed bump has turned out to be a challenge. While Perry had success in revamping TrueCar's operations (and in working with the distribution partner to restore some of the lost traffic), losses have continued to mount, and the company surprised investors by cutting its guidance for 2019 in May. 

Now what

TrueCar's board has appointed the company's partnership chief, Michael Darrow, to serve as interim president and CEO while it seeks a permanent successor for Perry, who will continue to work in an "advisory capacity" for the time being. 

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