Nike becomes a family business

Arguably the world’s most recognised sports brand Nike has become a family business with the appointment of Travis Knight, the founder’s son, to the board of directors. Phil Knight, the man who set the business up in 1964 with his university track coach, is also stepping down as chairman.

Knight’s departure coincided with the creation of a new company called Swoosh. Controlled by the family, Swoosh will hold the majority of the company’s voting stock, which elects 75% of Nike’s board. Knight, 77, might be stepping down from a titled job at Nike, but he’s expected to still play an active role in the business, says local media sources.

Travis, 42, is CEO of Laika Entertainment, an animation production company, which is owned by Phil Knight. Travis’ elder brother Matthew, died in a scuba diving accident in 2004. His sister, who doesn’t work at Nike, is believed to be a major beneficiary of the various trusts set up by her father which hold Nike stock.

Interestingly, Phil’s father William Knight, was also a business owner. In his case a publishing business in Oregon, where he refused to employ his son during the summer holidays, believing he should find his own job.

Maybe there’s a lesson here for all second generation members of family businesses.