Best Buy Ex-CEO Dunn Tops List of “Worst CEOs”

The list was determined by Dartmouth professor and author Sydney Finkelstein, and Brian Dunn made the cut due to the company’s poor performance—not because of the much-publicized scandal involving his alleged relationship with a female subordinate.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published a list of “The Worst CEOs of 2012”—and Brian Dunn, former chief executive of Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., topped the list.
The list was determined by Sydney Finkelstein, a longtime professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and the author of 11 books, including Why Smart Executives Fail and Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions.
He’s been putting out the “Worst CEOs” list for three years, and interestingly, Dunn didn’t make the list because of the much-publicized scandal involving his alleged relationship with a female subordinate.
Dunn is on the list for a myriad of other reasons—namely, “declining stock price, cratering same-store sales, loss of market share to more nimble competitors, and an addiction to share buybacks that cost the company $6.4 billion with little to show for it,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Behind Dunn on the list are: Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy; Andrea Jung, who stepped down as chief executive of beauty care company Avon in April; Mark Pincus, CEO of mobile gaming company Zynga; and Rodrigo Rato, who resigned as chairman of the Spanish lender Bankia in July.
To read more about each of the five list-makers, click here.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Groupon’s Andrew Mason almost made the list, Finkelstein told Businessweek—Zuckerberg for his “massive ego” and both men for their “immaturity and shares that move in only one direction, and not the right one.”
Last year’s “Worst CEOs” list included the chief executives of Netflix, Research in Motion, and Hewlett-Packard.

Forbes also released an end-of-year list containing the “worst CEO screw-ups” of 2012. Like Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes used input from Finkelstein to compile its list. Dunn took the second spot on that list, with Forbes citing Best Buy's declining stock price and market share, unimproved customer service, money “wasted” on share buybacks, and Dunn's relationship with a subordinate as factors that landed him on the list. View Forbes' complete list here.
Although Dunn hasn’t made many headlines in the past couple of months, Best Buy was prominently featured in a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. The October 22 issue provided an in-depth look at the history of Best Buy including its current back-and-forth with founder Richard Schulze, who is concocting a buyout offer.
The feature, titled “The Battle for Best Buy, the Incredible Shrinking Big Box,” chronicled the Richfield-based retailer’s story, and most provocative was the issue’s cover: It featured an illustration by Nathan Fox—known for his contributions to Marvel comics—that depicted a horde of zombies clad in Best Buy’s signature blue polo shirts. The image contained the words “Big Box Zombie,” suggesting that the electronics retailer was attempting to come back from the dead.