The Undoing of Priceline's CEO: Affair With an Employee
Darren Huston resigns, won't get severance
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2016 10:02 AM CDT
Darren Huston, then-president of Microsoft's Japan unit, at a press conference in Tokyo on July 9, 2007.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

(Newser) – The chief executive of Priceline has now become a member of what the Wall Street Journal calls a "not-very-exclusive club" of CEOs "toppled by relationships with employees." Darren Huston has resigned from the online travel company—which also includes Kayak, OpenTable, and Booking.com—effective immediately after it came to light he had a personal relationship with an employee who wasn't under his direct supervision, CNBC reports. Huston will also be replaced as the CEO of Booking.com, the parent company's largest unit. His exit isn't tied "in any way to the company's operational performance or financial condition," a company rep says, per USA Today. During Huston's tenure, the company's revenue increased from $4.3 billion in 2011 to $6.5 billion in 2015, and stock prices tripled to its most recent price of about $1,350 a share, Business Insider reports.

An inquiry found Huston violated the company's conduct code and that he didn't exhibit CEO-like behavior—and Huston reportedly admitted to those accusations and expressed his contriteness. "I am satisfied with the Board's thorough review of this issue," the board's lead independent director said in a statement. In Huston's place for the time being at the Priceline helm: Chairman Jeffrey Boyd, who was the company's CEO and president from 2002 to 2013 and who'll serve as temporary CEO until the board selects a new executive, the AP reports. Although Priceline will pay to send Huston, originally from Canada, back to North America from his home in Europe, he won't be getting a severance package and will forfeit about $15.3 million in unvested stock equity, Bloomberg reports. (Another dismal day for Priceline: when it killed off William Shatner's character.)