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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hoping to stop its leadership bleed, SeaWorld chooses fifth CEO since last year

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2019 at 2:57 PM

  • Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Though business has been on the upswing for SeaWorld recently, there have been few C-suite waters as choppy as their CEO position.

  • Photo of Sergio “Serge” Rivera via SeaWorld
Since February 2018, there had already been four different bosses at the company. The addition of newly announced CEO Sergio "Serge" Rivera makes five.

SeaWorld announced the hiring of the 57-year-old former hotel executive today in the hopes that he can stop the leadership bleed. For his trouble, the company signed Rivera to a three-year contract paying $600,000 per year plus stock options.

While in quarter three, SeaWorld saw a dip in earnings and attendance, it appears to be due largely to Hurricane Dorian denting the Labor Day holiday weekend. Before that, financial reports this year looked strong, touting triple-digit net income and double-digit improvements in adjusted earnings and bouncing back from years of political and cultural backlash and lackluster ticket sales.

This was under the watch of then-CEO Gus Antorcha, who was hired in February. The former Carnival Cruise Line COO, who preferred to stay behind the scenes more than previous SeaWorld leaders, also oversaw the park's gradual shift away from animal shows to rollercoasters and thrill rides.

Then, in September, after only being on the job seven months, he abruptly resigned, citing a "difference of approach" with SeaWorld's board of directors.
  • Photo of the Kraken via Wikimedia Commons
Some two months since the breakup, the board has swum up aside a new CEO. And it's just in time for the next big attendance rush at SeaWorld, the Orlando IAAPA convention later this month.

After a stint as CEO for Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Rivera was president and CEO of ILG’s Vacation Ownership Segment. He then made a stop as private residential club Ocean Reef Club's top dog this year. Now he heads one of Orlando's largest attractions, a company that consistently nets over $400 million dollars annually.

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