Saturday, April 7, 2018

Priceline CEO has affair with employee (2016)

Priceline CEO has affair with employee (2016)

Darren Huston, former CEO of Priceline

Priceline, an American company and a commercial website for finding discount rates for travel-related purchases such as airline tickets and hotel stays, is a subsidiary company of Booking Holdings, and in 2017 alone accumulated a total revenue of $21.8 billion. Priceline first became known for its Name Your Own Price system, where travelers would name their price for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and vacation packages. Priceline was founded in 1997 by Jay Walker, who left the company in 2000, thus leaving a trail of CEO's to follow in his footsteps.

Darren Huston took the helm of Pricelines parent company Booking Holdings on January 1, 2014, and was a stand-in CEO for Priceline as well. He was a former executive of Microsoft and Starbucks, and lasted only two years and four months at the helm of the online travel company. He has joined a number of high-profile CEO’s who have dipped their pen in the company ink, from Boeing’s Harry Stonecipher to American Apparels Dov Charney. He recently resigned amidst an internal investigation regarding a personal relationship he admitted to having with an employee within the company. The board said that it was “inconsistent with the board’s expectations for executive conduct” (Tobak, S. (2016, April 29). Priceline CEO Is Out After Affair, But Should He Be? Retrieved March 03, 2018, from
Jeffrey Boyd, CEO of Booking Holding

There were many stakeholders that were affected by this scandal, from the two individuals involved, their respective families, the stockholders of the company, the employees of the company, and CEO's everywhere. When I say CEO's everywhere, I say this because it taints their image in a way, because more and more scandals of CEO's having affairs with their employees are coming out. What this does is it paints all CEO's everywhere with a broad brush, making people look at them as men who sit in a superficial throne, who think they can do what they please when they want. 


From an individualist standpoint, one would say, in regards to the basics of individualism, that it is ethically permissible. Everyone has the right to pursue their own interests and should do so, but no one has the right to make others choices for them. Darren Huston and the woman involved in the scandal were pursuing their own self-interests, and they have that right to do so. When it comes to the economic theory, such as Milton Friedmans, they would say the same thing. As long as it does not affect the stakeholders and their profit, or is not against the law, it is permissible to do so. As long as Hustons choice to engage in a sexual relationship would not damage the companies stock or equity, as well as the profits, which it did not. In an email to Reuters, Leslie Cafferty, the spokeswoman for Priceline said "the investigation and Hutsons resignation was not related in any way to the companys operational performance or financial condition" (Singh S.).

Priceline Logo
Kantianism is made up of four main principles; act rationally, help and allow people to act rationally, respect peoples autonomy, and to be motivated by goodwill. Another main aspect of kantianism is the formula of humanity, where you do not use people as a means to an end. In the case of Darren Huston, in the lens of kantianism, this situation is impermissible. The decision to cheat on your wife is obviously an irrational decision, but on the contrary, it is rational to follow your interests, and in the case of Huston, that interest was love. He did not deceive this woman into this relationship. However, when it comes to goodwill which means people have good intentions and use good reasoning to come to conclusions that will make their good intentions effective, Hutson failed that. Hutson failed to look past the moment, and decided not to try and think of a why he was doing this, and is it a morally sound decision. Adultery is a horrible thing to do to anyone. It is very wrong to cheat on a spouse in any circumstance, and because of that, a Kant would say what Hutson did was impermissible. You must respect peoples autonomy and their ability to act rationally, but you must also be able to make decisions based on goodwill. 

Utilitarianism, a theory developed by John Stuart Mills, determines whether something is permissible or not based on the amount of unhappiness it brings. In this case, this situation would be permissible because the lack of unhappiness outweighs that of happiness. The only person who was affected in a way that would tip the scale was Huston. Hutson was forced to resign from his position as CEO in both companies (Booking Holdings & Priceline). He also drastically complicated his marital life with his wife, and no news has come up whether or not she has filed for a divorce. The biggest stakeholder in this controversy was obviously the shareholders of Priceline, and seeing as since Jeffrey Boyd (Interim CEO) and Brent Keller (Current CEO) stepped in the office, Pricelines shares have almost doubled in value since Huston stepped out.have risen from $1,44.66 to $2,085.85 since Hutson resigned To be exact, shares have risen from $1,44.66 to $2,085.85 since Hutson resigned. This overall proves that the happiness of the case, or rather the lack of unhappiness, is why it was permissible. Who knows if Hutson would have been able to bring Priceline into a league of blockbuster stocks. 

Virtue Theory

Virtue theory in order to determine whether something is permissible or not is whether it fulfills the 4 main virtues; courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Virtue theory is where it can get a little bit fuzzy, because you have to look at the decisions made within the situation, and determine whether or not Hutson’s’ decisions were rash, cowardice, or courageous. Did he find an area in-between the extremes, or was he too skewed to one side, thats what matters. You can look at all the virtues from both sides, but overall, Hutson failed all of these. He was cowardice for cheating on his wife, he did not restrain himself from going after what he wants, he was not honest at all, and he acted more selfishly than selflessly.

Tobak, S. (2016, April 29). Priceline CEO Is Out After Affair, But Should He Be? Retrieved March 03, 2018, from, M. D. (2016, April 28). Married CEO of Priceline and resigns immediately after being caught having an affair at work . Retrieved March 03, 2018, from

Kilgore, T. (2016, April 28). Priceline's former CEO did something naughty enough to not get severance. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from

FitzGerald, D., & Lublin, J. S. (2016, April 28). Priceline CEO Resigns After Relationship With Employee. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from

McEnery, T. (n.d.). Priceline CEO Out After Getting Caught Booking Where He Eats. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from

Morgan, R. (2016, May 24). The bosses who got screwed for boning in the corner office. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from

Singh, S. (2016, April 28). Priceline CEO resigns over relationship with employee. Retrieved from

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