Colby Howard

Published on April 9, 2024

Featured Article

CDK Global (CDK) Short: 31.3% Alpha Based on CEO Ability

On February 19, 2019, ManagementTrack recommended a short position on CDK Global (CDK), predicting a mismatch between CEO Brian Krzanich’s skills and the company’s needs. This case study explores the investigative process and insights that led to a successful short call, generating 31.3% alpha upon closing on September 3, 2019.

ManagementTrack’s Investigative Process

  1. In-depth Interviews: ManagementTrack conducted interviews with industry sources and former colleagues who worked with Brian Krzanich for over 150 years combined, providing a comprehensive view of his leadership style and decision-making.
  2. Behavioral Analysis: The team analyzed Krzanich’s past behaviors, including his tenure at Intel, to assess potential impacts on CDK’s culture and strategic direction.
  3. Skillset Evaluation: ManagementTrack evaluated Krzanich’s experience and skills, particularly his manufacturing background, against the requirements of leading a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company like CDK.

Why ManagementTrack Believed They Would Succeed

  1. Mismatched Experience: Krzanich’s manufacturing background and lack of software industry expertise were deemed ill-suited for CDK’s SaaS business model and turnaround needs.
  2. Leadership Concerns: His leadership style, marked by an abrasive approach and favoritism, was expected to exacerbate existing cultural challenges at CDK.
  3. Strategic Missteps: Krzanich’s history of questionable acquisitions and strategic decisions at Intel suggested a potential for value destruction rather than creation at CDK.

Outcome and Performance

The short position on CDK Global recommended by ManagementTrack resulted in 31.3% alpha, validating the concerns regarding Brian Krzanich’s fit as CEO and his impact on the company’s performance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Leadership Fit Is Critical: The case underscores the importance of executive experience and leadership style aligning with company needs.
  2. Cultural Impact Matters: A CEO’s ability to positively influence company culture is crucial for long-term success.
  3. Strategic Alignment Is Key: An executive’s past strategic decisions can offer insights into their potential impact on a new company’s direction and value.


ManagementTrack’s process, combining investigative journalism with a thorough analysis of executive backgrounds and company fundamentals, proved effective in predicting CDK Global’s underperformance under CEO Brian Krzanich. This case highlights the significance of executive fit in assessing investment opportunities.

© 2023 Paragon Intel