Away on Monday said it will change its leadership structure following the earlier appointment of Stuart Haselden as CEO. The brand will now make Haselden and co-founder Steph Korey co-CEOs, the company told Retail Dive in an email. The New York Times first reported the news.
Under the new structure, co-founder Jen Rubio will be in charge of product design and new categories while Korey will take ownership of legal and merchandising, and both will tackle marketing. Haselden will cover retail, supply chain, digital and technology, finance, data and strategy, people and culture, and international.
In a copy of an Away Slack message emailed to Retail Dive, Korey explained the changes to employees as "the exact working arrangement Stuart, Jen, and I had envisioned when we announced he was joining." She noted that, prior to The Verge's reporting on Away, Haselden's move to CEO was planned for "a bit further into the future."
In a surprise announcement, Korey will be rejoining Away in her prior role of CEO — this time with former Lululemon exec Haselden by her side.
Korey's slack message announcing the shift described "inaccurate reporting" at The Verge, which she said created a "social media mob" that led to the brand naming Haselden to the CEO role before planned. She also said her move to executive chairman was taken as a departure from the company when it was intended to be "an active leadership role."
Naming Korey and Haselden co-CEOs is meant to clarify that. The company also noted that it has hired lawyers from Clare Locke LLP, a defamation law firm, to look into The Verge's reporting. "We will be making a decision about our legal options after The Verge responds fully to our demands for retractions and corrections," Korey noted in her announcement.
The Verge released an investigative report in December around Away's corporate culture, which mainly centered on Korey's interactions with employees on Slack. The publication spoke to former employees for the report, who described a "culture of intimidation and constant surveillance" at the startup. Korey was reportedly often involved in creating this culture, and the report described her as "infamous for tearing into people on Slack."
In response to the claims about its reporting, a spokesperson from Vox Media said that the company "disputes Away CEO Steph Korey's characterization of our reporting. It's disappointing that Away has decided to attack The Verge instead of making this moment about Steph Korey's growth as a leader."
While The Verge investigation sparked questions about Korey's future at the brand, Away's reversal positions Haselden, Rubio and Korey as the top leaders driving the brand forward. To that effect, Rubio said in a statement that she and Korey were "honored to welcome Stuart to lead the company alongside the two of us."
This article has been updated to include comment from Vox Media.