Gates' Club: The Departed CEOs - TheStreet

Well below the age of the average retiree, billionaire CEO Bill Gates gave up the reins at moneymaker Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report to focus on giving away money. The Harvard dropout, 52, co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and became the face of the brand, including its widely used operating system.



look at iconic CEOs and the corporations that made them famous:


Steve Case

, America Online

During Tenure

: In 2000, the cofounder and CEO of the No. 1 online service provider at that time helped to initiate a merger with media and publishing conglomerate

Time Warner


. Considered a disaster by many, in 2002, the new company reported a loss of $99 billion.

After Tenure

: In 2003, Steve Case was replaced by Richard Parsons, and there have been talks of spinning off AOL.

The growth potential of AOL has been called into question

, and in a move to expand its audience the service provider began offering free email to some.

Life After CEO

: In 2005, Case was the founder of the investment firm

Revolution LLC



Howard Schultz



(SBUX) - Get Report

After Tenure

: Schultz left his role as CEO of the coffee giant in 2000. In the meantime, Starbucks continued to extend its reach beyond coffee, by increasing music, book and movie offerings.

Short-Lived Retirement

: Store traffic slowed so

Schultz returned to his role as CEO in 2008

and began to restructure the company by getting rid of key executives. After reporting its first annual profit decline, the coffee maker switched its focus to customer satisfaction.


Martha Stewart


Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia


During Tenure

: Accusations of improper stock trading landed this former CEO in the hot seat, and Stewart stepped down as CEO before serving time in the penitentiary.

Life After CEO

: Since her release from jail, Stewart has inked deals with


(M) - Get Report

, and serves in a limited capacity at OmniMedia. The company also recently acquired chef Emeril Lagasse's media and merchandising company.


Dave Thomas



(WEN) - Get Report

After Tenure

: The CEO and spokesperson of Wendy's died in 2002. Since his death, Wendy's has struggled to find as iconic a commercial spokesperson. A recent agreement to be acquired by

Triarc Companies



the owner of Arby's, could lead to reinvigoration of the menu



Jil Sander


Jil Sander AG

During Tenure, Take One

: The founder of the minimalist couture clothing line left the company in 2000, less than a year after selling 75% of the company's stock to Prada. A dispute over the direction of the company with Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, was seen as the reason behind her departure.

During Tenure, Take Two


After posting its first loss in 2001

, Sander returned to the company in 2003. But it wasn't long before the star designer left the company for good in 2004. Two years ago,

Change Capital Partners

purchased the fashion brand from Prada.

Life After CEO

: Sander has been out of the public spotlight since her departure from the label, and now owns a design studio in Hamburg, Germany.


Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

, Ben & Jerry's

During Tenure

: The founders of the ice cream company were the "U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year" in 1988.

After Tenure

: In 2000, the company was acquired by


(UN) - Get Report

, the owner of Skippy and Slim Fast. Today, Walt Freese is at the helm.

Life After CEO

: Cohen and Greenfield still maintain ties to the company, but there's been a new CEO since 1995, when the founders selected their successor via an essay contest.


Steve Jobs



(AAPL) - Get Report

During Tenure

: In 1976, Steve Jobs was the cofounder of the hardware company that emphasizes the importance of design.

After Tenure

: In the 80s, Jobs left Apple and created software company NEXT before it was acquired in 1996 by Apple Inc.

Short-Lived Retirement

: It wasn't until 2000 that Jobs returned fulltime as CEO of the company. Since his return, the digital music player the iPod was launched, and has become one of Apple's bestselling products.


Richard Rosenblatt

, MySpace

During Tenure

: Rosenblatt was the CEO of MySpace when publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch decided to purchase the social networking Web site in 2005.

After Tenure

: While the Web site still has a larger audience than its competitor, Facebook, the 55% growth of

Fox Interactive Media (NWS) - Get Report in its third quarter was considered "disappointing"

by Morningstar analyst Larry Witt.

Life After CEO

: Rosenblatt has since founded social media company Demand Media.


David Neeleman



(JBLU) - Get Report

During Tenure

: The founder and CEO of the budget airline company was replaced a little more than a year after reporting its first quarterly loss in 2007, and a few months after its return to profitability.

After Tenure

: The airline was recently voted "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low Cost Carriers in North America."

Life After CEO

: Since leaving, Neeleman has launched Azul, a Brazilian airline that expects to take its first flight in 2009.


Robert L. Johnson

, Black Entertainment Television

During Tenure

: In 1999, Johnson sold his stake in BET to


(VIA) - Get Report

, and left the company about six years later.

After Tenure

: In early 2008, BET broadened its audience by launching BET U in the United Kingdom.

Life After CEO

: Meanwhile, Johnson has since purchased the Charlotte Bobcats NBA franchise, and founded Our Stories Films, a production company.


Donald Fisher


The Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

During Tenure

: The co-founder of the clothing retail chain The Gap opened his first store with his wife in 1969. The Gap has skated between marketing to adults and children, and recently has used celebrities such as

Sarah Jessica Parker

and Joss Stone in their ad campaigns.

After Tenure

: Despite consumer purchase slow down,

the company recently posted a first-quarter profit


Life After CEO

: In 2003,

Fisher became chairman emeritus

, and years later

announced a plan to open a museum in San Francisco

to house his extensive art collection.

For more articles like this one check out