Bed Bath & Beyond CEO out after claims of poor leadership

A key shareholder in the online retailer blamed Johnson for its poor performance

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jonathan Johnson stepped down as CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond/Overstock Nov. 6, 2023, after shareholders blamed him for poor financial performance.

Jonathan Johnson has stepped down as the CEO of the rebranded Bed Bath & Beyond days after a shareholder called for his removal.

Beyond, Inc., the newest name for the Midvale company that was Overstock.com and now operates as Bed Bath & Beyond, announced Johnson’s departure Monday and called it a “mutual agreement” between Johnson and the board of directors.

“As the company turns the page to become Beyond, now is the right time for me to also turn the page to the next chapter in my career,” Johnson said in a news release. “It has been an honor to work with such an exceptional team. I am confident the company is well-positioned to achieve broader popular reach as a bigger and better Beyond.”

A letter JAT Capital Management sent to the company and filed with the SEC last week recommended Johnson be “removed immediately,” and blamed Johnson for Beyond’s poor financial performance. JAT owns 9.6% of the company shares.

“JAT Capital does not call for changes at our portfolio companies often, and it is only after careful consideration and in circumstances that are particularly unusual,” JAT founder and CIO John Thaler wrote. “This is one such case.”

The letter said Johnson has “performed poorly (as demonstrated by the company’s financials relative to its peer group), he has communicated poorly with investors and the sellside community, and he has recently taken actions that give the appearance that his own interests are being prioritized.”

JAT Capital did not respond to requests for further comment.

David Nielson, Beyond’s current president, will step in as interim CEO and president, the company announced in a news release.

Overstock bought a bankrupt Bed Bed & Beyond for $21.5 million in June and adopted the company name as its own. The company lost $63 million in the third quarter of 2023, according to company filings, and brought in 19% less revenue compared to last year.

Johnson said in an October news release that the company was in the “early stages of capitalizing” on the acquisition, and has “been successful in acquiring new customers and reactivating past customers.”

Beyond, Inc.’s spokesperson did not respond to The Tribune’s request for further comment.

Johnson took over as CEO in 2019, after former CEO Patrick Byrne disclosed a relationship with an alleged Russian spy. Johnson had been with Overstock.com/Beyond since 2002.

Johnson will leave with a $1.3 million severance package, according to SEC filings.

In the company’s announcement, Johnson said he is “incredibly proud of all that we have achieved to transform the company” under his leadership.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.