Walmart chief technology officer Jeremy King, who oversaw much of the company’s digital strategy, is abruptly leaving the company according to Bloomberg and other sources. This comes at a critical juncture when Walmart’s ecommerce arm is growing rapidly and making headway against rival Amazon.
The CTO role will be taken over on an interim basis by Fiona Tan, now Senior Vice President of Customer Technology, until the company finds a replacement.
King who started in 2011, is expected to leave at the end of March for an undisclosed “new adventure” according to an internal memo from U.S. CEO Greg Foran and U.S. Ecommerce CEO Marc Lore, Bloomberg said.
King was instrumental in the improvement of Walmart’s ecommerce site as alternative to Amazon, Bloomberg reported.
King led Walmart Labs, the company’s technology and innovation arm. Through more than 10 acquisitions he was key in moving operations to the cloud, allowing it to compete with Amazon. King also oversaw the opening of four new technology offices, according to Reuters.
In the last two years King oversaw the technological transformation of 4,700 U.S. Walmart stores. Last month, Walmart announced its ecommerce sales increased 43% in the fourth quarter, and 40% for the entire year. This was critical as ecommerce sales had slumped in that quarter the prior year.
“We will continue to play off and innovate as we shape the future of our omni retail,” said Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon during the earnings call. “This includes the expansion of innovative services like online grocery pickup and delivery.”
McMillon told analysts the company sees a future as a frictionless experience across stores and ecommerce.
“We full expect the pace of change to accelerate in the next five years versus the last five years with emerging technologies come together to transform retail even further and we’re adapting,” said McMillon.
King’s exit comes during a time when the company is making investments in its ecommerce business. During the last earnings call, Brett Briggs, Walmart’s Executive Vice President and CFO, said it expects losses in ecommerce to increase in the coming year, reflecting investments in infrastructure, people, online grocery and Store Number 8 initiatives.