Jeremy King, chief technology officer at Walmart, is leaving the company.
His last day will be March 29, according to an internal company memo distributed on Wednesday. King, who has been with the company for seven years, is going to another “non-competing company, which should be announced in the coming days,” according a Walmart representative.
The news comes as the big-box retailer continues to pour money into its e-commerce business and improving its in-store experience in an effort to compete with rivals like Amazon.
Walmart has done a lot to shake its image of old-school brick-and-mortar retailer and is trying to re-brand itself as a digital e-commerce hub instead.
That includes buying Mountain View, Ca.-based tech start-up Kosmix for $300 million and renaming it Walmart Labs in 2011. The Labs, a smaller organization with Walmart, now has more than 7,000 tech experts, along with behavioral scientists, working on the latest and greatest innovations in online shopping. More recently, the retailer also bought Jet.com and a series of digital native apparel businesses, including Bonobos and ModCloth.
“We’re expanding our assortment, improving search, enhancing our website and executing better on the fundamentals such as product reviews, inventory mirroring and on-time delivery to accomplish this,” Douglas McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart, told analysts on a conference call last month. “We will continue to play offense and innovate as we shape the future of omni-retail.”
“We’re really focusing on the omnichannel bridging the physical and digital parts and empowering the 1.1 million people in the U.S. with technology,” King said.
So far, the plan is working. In 2018, sales at Walmart U.S.’s online platform grew roughly 40 percent year-over-year.
Even so, the competition remains stiff.
Earlier this month, Coresight Research released a report suggesting that Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the number-one retailer for apparel.
In the company memo, Greg Foran, president and ceo of Walmart’s U.S. business, Marc Lore, president and ceo of the retailer’s e-commerce business, described King as a leader who had “laser focus.”
“He encouraged true omnichannel thinking and created a unified team of technologists, each focused on one customer,” the memo stated.
King also helped create partnerships with technology companies, including Microsoft, Google and Nvidia during his tenure with the company.
Fiona Tan, senior vice president of customer technology, Walmart Labs, will help fill the gap until King’s replacement is found.