Failed CEO to Praise Obama

Ousted CarMax CEO to stump for incumbent car czar president

Austin Ligon
• September 5, 2012 8:55 pm


CarMax cofounder and ousted CEO Austin Ligon will speak at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night to tout President Obama’s leadership, but Ligon’s own record has been marred by failures of leadership.

Ligon, who will be preceded at the convention by a video promoting Obama’s bailout of the auto industry, was forced out of his position as CEO by the CarMax Board, Fortune reports:

By the summer of 2005 […] sources tell Fortune that several senior CarMax executives were chafing under Ligon's leadership style.

"There was no question about Austin's understanding of the market or his strategic planning, but he was under a lot of pressure to make CarMax more successful financially and that sometimes got taken out on those below him," says a source close to the situation.

A group of senior managers would eventually take their concerns to the board, threatening to quit en masse if some sort of action wasn't taken. The board sided with the executives, and quietly offered Ligon a chance to step aside. In October 2005,CarMax announced that Ligon had chosen to resign as CEO of CarMax, but that he would stick around until a search process for his successor was completed.

Ligon went on to a career as a private angel-stage investor. He has been a generous donor to Democrats since Obama was elected. Since 2011, he has donated more than $60,000 to the Democratic candidates and committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In recent months, Ligon has been an outspoken Obama supporter, claiming the president would be better for business than Republican nominee Mitt Romney.