On a recent Norges Bank Investment Management podcast, Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden appeared to extend an olive branch to "Ye," formerly Kanye West. Gulden, who previously served as Puma's CEO, took the helm at Adidas on Jan. 1. His leadership followed the termination of the German sportswear brand's relationship with Ye last fall over anti-Semitic comments.
Gulden told the "In Good Company" podcast that Ye's comments, such as "Death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE," were "Very unfortunate, because I don't think he meant what he said, and I don't think he's a bad person. It just came across that way."
The episode, titled "Bjørn Gulden CEO of Adidas: shoes, leadership, and fast decisions," was aired on Sept. 13, and the CEO praised Ye as "one of the most creative people in the world ... both in music and what I will call street culture".
New Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden about Ye :— Donda Times (@dondatimes) September 19, 2023
"Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world. I don't think he's a bad person, it just came across that way." pic.twitter.com/8k1JvHkyJl
The ongoing fallout of Ye's "Yeezy" line with Adidas has left the sportswear company with an estimated $1.3 billion of inventory. In recent months, the company has been able to sell down its inventory while allocating those proceeds to "organizations working to combat discrimination and hate, including racism and antisemitism."
Gulden said Ye's partnership was before his time. He continued, Adidas "lost that business, one of the most successful collaborations in the history. Very sad. But when you work with third parties it can happen, and it's part of the game."
Morningstar analyst David Swartz estimated that Adidas earned $2 billion annually on Yeezy shoes. The sportswear maker has suffered without Ye, slashing its dividend by 80% earlier this year as shares have been more than halved in the last few years.
Gulden's comments have infuriated liberals, some of whom have called for a "Boycott Adidas."
What we find interesting is X user "Donda Times," which appears to be an account that follows "everything about Ye," stated, "Bjørn has been CEO since the separation between Adidas and Yeezy, he notably follows Ye fan pages on Instagram."
Maybe Adidas is having second thoughts about firing Ye...