Jack Welch, the legendary former General Electric CEO who left the company $400 billion more valuable than he found it, is dead at 84

Jack Welch. Getty/Mike Coppola

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, has died at age 84.

His death was announced on Monday by his wife, Suzy. The cause of death was renal failure, she told The New York Times.

“Today is a sad day for the entire GE family. Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century. He reshaped the face of our company and the business world,” GE’s chairman and CEO, Larry Culp, said in a statement shared with Business Insider.

“Jack was a strong and constant influence throughout my career despite never having worked directly for him.

“He will be deeply missed by me and the entire GE team. And we’ll continue to honour his legacy by doing exactly what Jack would want us to do: win.”

Jack Welch, centre, chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., laughs during a visit to his company's trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, May 28, 1996
Welch, centre, was the chairman and CEO of General Electric. AP Images

During Welch’s legendary tenure at GE, its value rocketed to $US410 billion from $US14 billion.

He helmed the company for two decades, then started a business school and became known for his commentary on management issues.

Welch began working for GE in 1960 as a chemical engineer. By 1972 he was a vice president, and by 1979 he was the chairman.

In 1981 he took on the additional role of CEO, which he held until he retired in September 2001.

Jack welch cnbc
Welch on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box.’ CNBC

In his 20 years as CEO, Welch transformed GE into one of the world’s most admired and successful companies with his innovative management techniques.

Revenue grew fivefold, to $US130 billion from about $US25 billion, while income grew tenfold, to $US15 billion from $US1.5 billion, and the company’s market capitalisation increased thirtyfold, to about $US410 billion.

His achievements are considered epic, and companies around the world have adopted the “Welch way.”

In 2010 Welch founded the Jack Welch Management Institute, a business school that offers executive education and management training.

“He became the gold standard of greatness, the icon of industrial imagination,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University business professor who had known Welch since the 1980s, told Bloomberg. “His track record over those 20 years as CEO is hard to see excelled anywhere.”

President Donald Trump tweeted about Welch on Monday following the news of his death.


Much of Welch’s commentary and advice on business issues over the years has been published on Business Insider – you can see Welch’s author archive here.