Hours after that $500 million Avis merger became official, the Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith announced his departure from his car-sharing helm, which could signal the beginning of the end of the beloved short-term rental service. Sure, it's possible he left because he just made a ton of money and he wants to do other things with his life and piles of cash (according to SEC filings, Griffith owned stock and had options at Zipcar that were potentially worth about $20 million in the merger). Griffith's farewell memo, via Boston.com, makes this sound like a clashing visions situation. He ominously writes:
After a thoughtful review of the company’s needs over the next several years, I’ve concluded it’s best if I step back and give someone else the opportunity to put the pedal down and take Zipcar to the next level. This is a bittersweet decision because I don’t feel like my work here is completely done.
"Company's needs" could be code for the new-found direction of the start-up that doesn't jibe with his vision. And that second part suggests he had certain plans that Avis did not like. This is exactly what people were afraid would happen. "The only way for Avis to realize its over-promised cost savings will be to force Zipcar to consolidate the two operations and become more like Avis in everything it does. Eventually, all the old Zipcar executives will be fired or will migrate somewhere else," wrote a very worried Steven Perlstein in Wonkblog. This is just the beginning of a long road to corporatization.
But maybe all hope isn't lost yet. The president and COO of the company, Mark Norman, will succeed Griffith. So, at least someone with blood and sweat in the operation will be making the decisions. Plus, Avis isn't the worst car rental company on the planet.