A few days after Flexport CEO Dave Clark stepped down in a dramatic leadership shakeup, founder Ryan Petersen is seen to be cleaning up what he calls a “mess” in the company.
Clark announced his sudden departure last week, claiming he is “redirecting his focus on global trade.” But many believe there is more than meets the eye.
Locate2u looks at the significance of Clark’s last media statements and Petersen’s social media defense.
Flexport’s deal with Shopify in spotlight
Four months before the leadership dispute, Clark informed Flexport that the company would acquire the assets of Shopify Logistics, including Deliverr. That’s when Shopify cut jobs for the second time in less than a year, and agreed to sell the majority of its logistic business to Flexport. Clark described this in his May blog as “an exciting time for Flexport” and that it is “the last piece of puzzle that enables us to drive technology fueled solutions across the entire product cycle.”
He was very proud to announce that he was changing things up, trying to position himself as a trailblazer. “The shipping industry has not experienced the same technological revolution that we see across other sectors, and I came to Flexport specifically because I know this team is changing that.”
In May Clark stated that Flexport was building what he called “a strong leadership bench”. He also elaborated on the freight giant’s plans to “heavily invest in hiring hundreds of software engineers” to join its growing teams.
But at the weekend, many young dreams were shattered ungraciously on X, formerly known as Twitter. Shortly before the group’s first day in the office, Petersen tweeted to the world: “Flexport is rescinding a bunch of signed offer letters for people who were starting as soon as this Monday. I am deeply sorry to those people who were expecting to join our company and won’t be able to at this time.”
He confessed on social media: “It’s messed up.”
Contradicting statements on recruitment plans
Petersen went on to explain the company had infact stopped hiring new employees for months. “We have had a hiring freeze for months, I have no idea why more than 75 people were signed to join. Or why we had over 200 open roles on our website.”
This is contradictory to what Clark openly stated just four months ago, that Flexport was “heavily investing” in hiring not a dozen but “hundreds of engineers.”
Two months prior, Petersen joined another company
Petersen revealed he’s joining Founders Fund as a partner two months ago. A joint statement was put out on Flexport’s website to reasure any potential unsettling investors. “I’ll continue to be active in my role as Flexport’s Executive Chairman, especially supporting our growth initiatives.”
Founders Fund is a San Francisco based capital firm, formed in 2005. It has about $11 billion in total assets. It was one of the first investors in Facebook, Space Exploration Technologies and Palantir Technologies.
Petersen, who founded Flexport more than a decade ago, shared the new venture with his LinkedIn network at the time, adding: “But don’t be misled! I’m ALL IN on supporting Dave Clark and the entire Flexport team to advance our mission. I sent a note to our team about my new role and what it means for Flexport, which we’ve published on our blog.”
Last famous words
It’s not clear where and when it all went wrong for Clark. In one of his last press statements four months ago, he concluded: “I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future for Flexport.”
Neither Clark nor Petersen has said anyting about the dramatic leadership scuffle on their social media accounts.