Skift Take

Hertz's next CEO has his work cut out for him in remaking the company. The car rental firm's transformation plan sounds good on paper, but it will be up to Stephen Scherr to turn vision into reality.

Hertz appointed Stephen Scherr, a Goldman Sachs veteran who helped build its consumer digital bank, as the car rental company’s new CEO.

Scherr, who worked as Goldman Sachs’ chief financial officer until December 31 and had a nearly 30-year career at the investment bank, was co-chair of then-Mayor Elect Eric Adams’ transition team in New York City. Scherr will replace Mark Fields, a former Ford CEO who has served as Hertz’s interim CEO for the past four months, beginning February 28. Scherr will join Fields as a Hertz board member.

The changing of the guard announced on Friday occurs about seven months after Hertz emerged from bankruptcy, and tries to vastly improve the car rental experience for customers, and to get more digital in making its business more efficient and profitable.

“Hertz is an extraordinary brand and a resilient business that is perfectly positioned to reshape how people move about in a safe, convenient, affordable and more environmentally friendly way,” Scherr said in a statement. “I am thrilled to join Hertz and lead the team as we put our customers at the center of our business and partner with those who believe in our vision for the future of mobility. We are committed to giving our customers a world class experience deserving of Hertz’s storied 103-year history.”

The appointment announcement touts Scherr’s “experience in standing up a digital consumer business,” including the digital consumer bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and spearheading the launch of the AppleCard. The announcement credits Scherr with being “a principal architect and leader of the bank’s new consumer business.”

Launched in 2016, Marcus by Goldman Sachs evolved much quicker in its home U.S. market than in the UK, where it planned on debuting a mobile app in the first quarter of 2022, Reuters reported. However, U.S. consumers seem please with the Marcus app, which has a 4.9 rating in the Apple app store.

 “Stephen is the leader Hertz needs to grow our business and to have a formidable position in the future of mobility and fleet management,” said Greg O’Hara, Hertz’s board chairman and founder and senior managing director at Certares. “He is a proven strategist, innovator and leader with a track record of earning customer loyalty.”

The appointment announcement lauds Scherr’s experience in building partnerships, which will be key in Hertz’s transformation plan.

Among the company’s high-profile partnership’s post-bankruptcy, Hertz announced a deal in November to buy 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans by the end of 2022. The announcement contributed to Tesla’s market cap soaring well over $1 trillion for a time.

Hertz said its priorities for rebuilding the company will include electrification of the fleet, shared mobility, and a revamped and digital first customer experience. 

Scherr left his chief financial officer position at Goldman Sachs at the end of 2021, which was a standout year for the investment bank. “Revenue surged by a third, and the bank’s $21.6 billion of net income was greater than in the prior two years combined,” according to a BloombergQuint story.

Scherr had been under consideration for an appointment to an economic post in then-New York City Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ administration, but dropped out of consideration in December.

Tom Wagner, Hertz board member and founder of Knighthead Capital, which together with Certares led Hertz out of bankruptcy, said in a statement that Scherr “has the patience, tenacity and charisma needed to push Hertz forward.”

A source close to the company said Hertz used the search firm Spencer Stuart to find a CEO.

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Tags: bankruptcy, banks, ceos, certares, customer experience, electric cars, fintech, hertz, tesla

Photo credit: Tesla 3 electric vehicles at a Hertz airport location. The company appointed Stephen Scherr as its next CEO. E.R. Davidson / Hertz

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