H&R Block has appointed former eBay executive William C. Cobb as the tax prep giant’s new president and CEO.
Cobb will replace Alan Bennett on May 16 as CEO, the company said Wednesday. Bennett was appointed CEO last July, taking over from Russ Smyth after an earlier term as CEO. Bennett will remain on the company's board of directors through September. The company’s chairman, Richard Breeden, also recently stepped down (see Breeden Resigns as H&R Block Chairman).
“Bill is a seasoned global business executive with a deep understanding of retailing, franchising, digital and international business,” said H&R Block's new chairman, Robert A. Gerard, in a statement. “For the last 20 years, he has helped build some of the world's top brands, including eBay, Pepsi-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Doritos. Bill's broad background is right for H&R Block, and his experience on our board will let him hit the ground running.”
From 2004 to 2008 Cobb served as president of eBay Marketplaces, eBay's flagship division. Under his leadership, eBay Marketplaces traded $25 billion in goods and services and reached a record $2.6 billion in revenue. In addition to eBay's U.S. performance, Cobb was responsible for affiliated businesses, including StubHub, Shopping.com, and Rent.com. Prior to running eBay Marketplaces, Cobb led eBay's International division to grow from $300 million in revenue to more than $1 billion in two years.
From 1987 until 2000 when he joined eBay, Cobb held several senior level positions at Pepsico and YUM! Brands, including senior vice president and chief marketing officer of International Marketing for YUM!, and senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut U.S. Cobb joined H&R Block's board in August 2010.
“H&R Block is an iconic company trusted by millions of people,” said Cobb. “Through our fabulous assets—from our core tax business to our Emerald Card to McGladrey—H&R Block plays an integral role in the lives of our clients. The company’s proud heritage, loyal following, and dedicated tax professionals, franchisees, and associates, position us well for the future. I’m excited to have the opportunity to build a new generation of success at H&R Block.”
As part of the transition, Bennett will be available to Cobb as an advisor for one year. Bennett has been a board member since 2008. He was H&R Block's interim CEO from November 2007 to August 2008. After two unplanned terms as H&R Block’s CEO, Bennett is retiring and returning to his home in Connecticut.
“I look forward to serving as a resource to Bill,” said Bennett. “I can confidently step down knowing that H&R Block has a strong balance sheet and the right leadership team in place. Our management team delivered a powerful performance during the past nine months, and I’m certain this momentum will flourish under Bill's leadership and long-term commitment to the company.”
“I want to thank Alan for his important contributions during the last year,” said Gerard. “Alan led H&R Block during turbulent times in the company's history. He returned H&R Block to its tax preparation roots and increased the number of clients we served. Bill is the natural successor to build on these achievements. We anticipate a seamless transition.”
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