Chasing digital growth, Walmart poaches PayPal CFO - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Chasing digital growth, Walmart poaches PayPal CFO


Dive Brief:

  • PayPal Chief Financial Officer John Rainey will join Walmart as CFO on June 6, the retail giant said late Tuesday.

  • He will replace Brett Biggs, who is leaving for "opportunities in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors," according to a company blog post. Biggs will remain CFO until Rainey's first day, then continue as an adviser until he leaves Walmart on Jan. 31.

  • In addition to his CFO job, Rainey serves as PayPal's executive vice president of global customer operations. Before PayPal he was CFO at United Airlines, and spent a combined 18 years working for both United and Continental Airlines.

Dive Insight:

As the largest retailer in the U.S., with retail sales that handily outpace Amazon's, Walmart long ago conquered brick-and-mortar retail. The company's new frontier is e-commerce, where it's been chasing Amazon's dominance in the last several years through a marketplace, membership-based free delivery service and other initiatives.

Despite these concerted efforts, Walmart's digital growth slowed in the fourth quarter, edging up just 1%, though that was on top of nearly 70% growth in the same period the previous year. Wooing Rainey away from PayPal seems to be Walmart's latest move in its quest to nurture its digital side.

"I'm confident that John's mix of financial and digital acumen, coupled with his experience leading finance in complex, highly competitive industries, will help us deliver for our customers and shareholders as we continue to transform our company," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

During the transition period, in addition to helping shift his CFO duties to Rainey, Biggs will stay on as a board member on Walmart’s fintech startup joint venture with Ribbit Capital, the company also said on Tuesday. Observers have noted the retailer's potential in that space, given its scale, ample capital, and massive customer and employee bases.

Telsey Advisory Group analysts led by Joseph Feldman expressed surprise that the retail giant hired a top executive from outside the company. But that may have been the best way to find someone with such deep knowledge and experience in e-commerce.

"[W]e believe the company made a good choice in selecting a CFO with deep understanding of the digital/omnichannel world, consumer fintech, and experience in customer-facing businesses," Feldman said in a Wednesday research note. "We believe Mr. Rainey's experience at PayPal should help accelerate Walmart's digital transformation — including building an ecosystem that incorporates digital wallet/payment, financial services, media/advertising, membership/subscriptions, and consumer products — to gain greater share of consumers' wallets."


Daphne Howland, Khareem Sudlow