Good morning. Fortune digital editor Andrew Nusca here in place of Alan, who is taking a much-deserved day off.
Chipotle, the popular fast casual food chain, named a new CEO late yesterday. Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell, replaces Chipotle founder Steve Ells, who becomes the company’s executive chairman. Wall Street applauded the news; Chipotle’s slumping stock price shot up by as much as 12% in after-hours trading.
Don’t let the Mexi-inspired commonalities fool you–Ells and Niccol couldn’t be more different. Ells, 51, is the exacting chef-turned-entrepreneur-turned-executive who founded Chipotle in 1993. Nicole, 43, is a corporate fixture who spent a decade managing brands at P&G before six years at Pizza Hut and seven at Taco Bell, two as its CEO. One man brought forth a fast-casual revolution; another crafted a quick-service evolution.
But evolution is exactly what Chipotle needs right now. The chain’s scale–it now has more than 2,400 locations–long ago outran Ells, leading to 2015 and 2017 food safety scares that sullied the brand’s reputation for quality among consumers. Tapping Niccol, who presided over some 7,000 Taco Bell locations and repositioned the brand as a lifestyle choice, is the jolt of operational experience Chipotle needs.
Will Ells give Niccol enough room to revive the burrito purveyor? If he’s a student of business history, he will–founder-CEOs are rare for good reason. Because the only thing worse than a stomach bug that won’t quit is an executive that does the same.
Oh, and one more thing: We are proud to announce that Fortune’s next Global Forum will be held from Oct. 15 to 17 in Toronto. Our long-running Global Forum brings together CEOs and government leaders to discuss key business issues and topics of interest. Expect energy, infrastructure, and technology to feature in our Canadian program.
Today’s news below.
Russian operatives are already working to interfere with the U.S. midterm elections, according to American intelligence officials, using extensive digital trickery to deepen political divisions in the country. America’s not alone, either: European elections are also targeted. New York Times
Still Sweating It
Under Armour’s shares soared Tuesday after better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, but it’s premature to pop the champagne. Its sales still represent a slowdown from explosive growth in the recent past. Plus, it’s facing fierce competition in North America–its largest market–from a still-ascendant Adidas, Lululemon Athletics’ menswear line, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, a key retail partner that’s now pushing its own brands. Fortune
Your Delivery Has Arrived
JD.com, the second-largest Chinese e-commerce company behind Alibaba, has raised $2.5 billion for its logistics arm as it seeks to further bolster its market position in China and abroad. (The unit was valued at $10.9 billion prior to the new funding.) On tap for the retailer, according to CEO Richard Liu: automation, drones and robotics. Reuters
Netflix signed 21st Century Fox producer Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) to a deal reported to last five years and be worth $300 million. It’s the latest salvo in a …read more