Kathy Willard announcing her retirement from Live Nation on May 6 of this year may be the equivalent of Michael Jordan leaving the NBA after winning a sixth championship. It is mind-blowing to see the trajectory of Live Nation’s growth over the course of Willard’s 14-year CFO reign. From when she started in September 2007 to last week (May 7, 2021), the company’s stock price grew exponentially from a $20.03 price on 2.3 million volume to $79.86 on 11 million in volume.
Live Nation, where Willard spent her first nine years in a variety roles, including Chief Accounting Officer, was on its way to a 10th consecutive record financial year in 2020 before the pandemic hit. Instead, in its financial reports for the full year and Q4, the company showed an 84% sink in revenue (92% in Q4). The company reported a $307.2 million loss for the first fiscal quarter of the year, down from the same period in 2020 but with bright spots that included sold-out festivals, continued tour announcements for the rest of 2021 and 2022 tours far outpacing 2019 as well as its strong stock price.
Outside of ledgers, the three-time Impact 50 honoree is active in inclusivity and diversity issues. “As CFO, I’m especially proud of our efforts to increase our spend with Black and minority-owned vendors,” she told Pollstar in March. “We spend over $2 billion annually on staging and sourcing our shows, and we can make a real difference by directing that purchasing power to drive economic empowerment,” Willard says. “Today there are significantly more women and people of color in senior positions of visibility and authority than when I started, which makes me hopeful for the future and continued progress.”
Talk about going out on a high note, literally. LYN hit a recent nadir price of $33.97 on March 20, 2020, when the pandemic knocked the wind out of the live industry and everything else. The stock has since roared back to an all-time high of $89.81 on March 5 with Willard’s steady hand at the helm of the promoter giant. Behold, LN’s stock trajectory during her tenure (below). Enough said.
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Live Nation Stock Price During Kathy Willard