Hacking: It happens to the best of them, and also to the SEC. The difference comes in who you are and how you deal with it. Do you immediately start giving hourly briefings to the Oval Office and then promise to throw an extra nine figures a year at the problem? Congratulations, Jamie Dimon, you get to keep your job. Are you a credit-reporting agency, a major part of whose primary job it is to keep sensitive consumer data safe? Did the breach affect nearly every single American it possibly could? Did the problem go unnoticed and unsolved for two-and-a-half months? Did you then do as bad a job with your “whoopsie” website as you did with protecting the information in the first place? Did you either fail to inform your leadership team of the breach and planned fix, or did members thereof commit insider-trading after you did? If you answered “yes” to more than two or three of the above questions, you should probably have resigned already. Or, if you are Equifax CEO Richard Smith—who had the misfortune of answering “yes” to every single one of those questions, and was going to have to answer many more uncomfortable questions posed by the likes of Elizabeth Warren in just a couple of days—you retire. A little early.
Before the data breach at Equifax, Mr. Smith was widely admired on Wall Street for developing new products and increasing sales. Equifax had revenue of $3.1 billion last year, up from $1.4 billion the year he took over.
Mr. Smith will not receive a bonus in 2017 and will serve as an unpaid consultant to the company for up to 90 days, according to a financial filing. The company did not immediately answer questions about whether or under what circumstances he might have to repay any compensation he has already received.
So, yea, like John Stumpf before you, you had to go, Dick. But, like John Stumpf before you, you should have had the decency to submit to the requisite humiliation and verbal ass-whipping before a Senate committee before going.
Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, called Equifax “a travesty” during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, saying Smith’s resignation “is by no means enough.” Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the company needs to be held responsible for its actions.
“A CEO walking out the door just days before he is to appear before Congress is an abdication of his responsibility,” Schatz, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Best of luck, interim CEO Paulino de Rego Barros Jr., who must also be thinking longingly about his own retirement already.