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I quit: A short history of famous resignation letters, Vishal Sikka to Steve Jobs

Vishal Sikka’s surprise exit from Infosys on Friday triggered discussions around the country on the behind-the-scenes story. Here are a few famous resignation letters by corporate leaders in the past:

business Updated: Aug 18, 2017 16:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vishal Sikka,Infosys,Vishal Sikka resigns
Vishal Sikka’s surprise exit from Infosys on Friday triggered discussions around the country on the behind-the-scenes story.(Shutterstock)

Vishal Sikka abruptly announced his resignation as Infosys CEO on Friday, writing a blog post on how “it was difficult to deal with continuous allegations and noise” around his role in the IT bellwether.

While the Infosys CEO resigned citing personal and negative remarks, corporate leaders around the globe have come up with innovative ways in the past to announce their resignations.

Here are a few famous letters:

1) Greg Smith announced his resignation as Goldman Sachs executive director in the New York Times in a piece titled ‘Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs’.

“Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

Smith’s full letter

2) Kevin Nalty, a consumer product director at Merck Pharmaceuticals, quit his job to become a comedian. This is how he did it:

3) Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, wrote a letter to quit his job.

“After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.”

DeSantis’ letter was printed in an NYT piece titled ‘Dear A.I.G., I Quit’.

4) Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz tweeted a haiku over his resignation. He resigned following Sun’s sale to Oracle. Haiku is a form of Japanese verse.

Here is what Schwartz tweeted: “Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more”

5) In 2013, Groupon fired its chief executive Andrew Mason after accounting gaffes were reported during his tenure.

“After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention”

Mason’s full letter

6) Steve Ballmer resigned from the Microsoft board in 2014. He wrote a letter to say he was leaving Microsoft to concentrate on his new basketball team, the LA Clippers.

“I bleed Microsoft —have for 34 years and I always will.”

Ballmer’s full letter

7) Steve Jobs first resigned as chairman of Apple Computer in 1985, only to return 12 years later.

“I find myself both saddened and perplexed by the management’s conduct in this matter which seems to me contrary to Apple’s best interest...I am but 30 and want still to contribute and achieve.”

8) In 2011, Jobs said he was unable to continue as CEO of Apple, passing on the responsibility to Tim Cook.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Jobs’ full letter

While resignations by corporate leaders were popular because of the significance of the top positions they held, the award for the most innovative one goes to:

9) Neil Berrett told his boss he was quitting by writing his resignation letter on a cake.

“Dear Mr. Bowers - During the past three years, my tenure at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has been nothing short of pure excitement, joy and whim.

However, I have decided to spend more time with my family and attend to health issues that have recently arisen. I am proud to have been part of such an outstanding team and I wish this organization only the finest in future endeavours.

Please accept this cake as notification that I am leaving my position with NWT on March 27. Sincerely, W. Neil Berrett.”

Cake of Resignation

10) A 25-year-old American made a video titled ‘An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West’s Gone’ at 4.30am while working working for Next Media Animation, a Taiwanese animator. She said “for almost two years I’ve sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job”.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 15:52 IST