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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.’s CEO Frits van Paasschen was a CEO’s CEO. He had the cool brands, the digital toys, a strong team, and he looked cool on a bike. While they may not have wanted his growth numbers — in his last year Starwood’s were two points below target — they wanted his mojo.
But modern hospitality companies trade in quarterly earnings rather than mojo or long-term brand building these days. Acting CEO Adam Aron said shortly after van Paasschen’s removal that “It’s something that’s been building over the past few months.” You could sense a bit of palace intrigue taking place, too, with Aron’s title changing over the months as “acting” disappeared then reappeared before his CEO title. Not content to be a placeholder, Aron moved quickly to implement a strategic review to identify acquisitions or a strategy for being acquired.
As we saw in November, the second half of that strategy worked, and the Starwood we’ve known in recent years will be radically transformed.
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