The fight for talent between tech giants has always been intense, but new forays into places like the metaverse, artificial intelligence and digital advertising have made the tug-of-war even more competitive.
From big names like Google (GOOGL) – Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report and Facebook (FB) – Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report, known now as Meta Platforms, trading talent, to lesser known tech players but major retailers like Walmart (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report and Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report, having tech skills makes a person hugely valuable.
That value increases the further up the food chain they have managed to get, with C-suite execs in enormous demand for companies hoping to launch new products with someone who has institutional knowledge about what the next move should be.
The talent wars have become so pitched that the longstanding practice of forcing departing employees to sign non-compete agreements has come under fire from courts and state regulatory authorities, who say it smothers free market competition.
That has unlocked thousands of new, marquee-name players into the larger marketplace, where they can now place their talents wherever they think best, without having to worry about their previous company coming after them for breaching a prior agreement.
Paypal’s Loss is Walmart’s Gain
The move is being closely watched because of Rainey’s familiarity with digital marketing, advertising and an increasingly complex landscape in Silicon Valley.
Rainey, who began his career at Ernst and Young before moving to United Airlines and then PayPal, has a solid background in both traditional financial management and cutting-edge tech.
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That makes him a valued resource for a retailer like Walmart, which has struggled to go from an anchor store in many American towns to an online destination for shoppers elsewhere or spooked by the pandemic into buying online.
“[John] has a proven track record of leading change at scale in customer service organizations innovating in their fields.
“I’m confident that John’s mix of financial and digital acumen, coupled with his experience leading finance in complex, highly competitive industries, will help us deliver for our customers and shareholders as we continue to transform our company,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.
Rainey will replace current CFO Brett Biggs, who had previously announced his departure. Rainey will start in June, with Biggs available as an adviser until late fall.
What Does Walmart Need?
Walmart has been hoping to take its success as one of the world’s leading retailers into the online marketplace.
With a market cap of $433 billion, the company has shown a dedication to digitalizing its offerings, backing a consortium of Goldman Sachs bankers who have created fintech ONE, lead by Omer Ismail, a former Goldman Sachs executive.
Walmart has hyped the startup as a one-stop shop for consumers to borrow, spend and save money, putting it squarely in the finance sector.
It has also heavily funded new products in healthcare, including in-store services for primary care, X-rays and behavioral health. TheStreet’s Veronika Bondarenko wrote more about that here.
Walmart has more than 100 million weekly shoppers and around 1.6 million employees.