It's been a rough year for some companies and their investors, but way too often you find CEOs doing well for themselves in spite of the rough times. They continue to collect fat checks for poor performance, and it's time to call out some of the corporate helmsmen that should've been canned this year.
There's no point in calling out the CEOs in industries that are facing rough headwinds. If you run an energy company, you had a rough 2015, but it's not necessarily your fault. With that caveat, let's discuss some of the CEOs who didn't serve their companies and their shareholders well this year.
Apollo Education Group (NASDAQ: APOL) -- Gregory Cappelli
The parent company of the University of Phoenix is flunking out -- the stock has shed nearly 80% of its value in 2015. Online colleges have come under fire for everything from their efficacy to student loan repayment rates, and at the end of the day Apollo is suffering from declining enrollments.
Employer-reviews website Glassdoor rates Apollo poorly, with more than 75% of its employees posting reviews not approving Cappelli as CEO. That's not a ringing endorsement.
SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) -- Daniel Birnbaum
Making soda at home isn't as cool as it used to be, and SodaStream investors are feeling the pain as the stock loses its fizz. Soda consumption in general has been slipping for a decade, but SodaStream can't just blame that trend.
SodaStream has had its share of stumbles. It took too long to shift production away from a controversial plant in a disputed West Bank settlement. It attacked the cola giants in its ads, something that probably steered key brands to back Keurig Kold instead. SodaStream is now in the process of repositioning its machine as a maker of sparkling beverages instead of flavored sodas, but that angle isn't working. Sales of soda makers continue to decline, and someone has to be responsible.
Yelp (NYSE:YELP) -- Jeremy Stoppelman
Founder CEOs are often passionate about their companies, and rightfully so. However, when that fervor gets in the way of maximizing shareholder value, it's probably a good time to move on. Yelp's stock has shed more than half of its value this year, and if summertime reports are to be believed, it could be all Stoppelman's fault.
Bloomberg reported in May that the ratings review website had hired Goldman Sachs to find a suitor, but two months later Stoppelman reportedly called off the potential sale. That's a shame, because the stock has declined sharply since then.
Yelp has been no stranger to controversy over the years, with non-paying merchants arguing that the site buries negative reviews for advertisers. It's been able to grow its user base, but we're at the point where mobile growth is slowing and desktop usage is declining. Yelp should pursue a sale before its stock heads even lower. Stoppelman is generally well liked by his employees, but someone more objective needs to lead Yelp's exit strategy.