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The Visa innovation chief who was fired had a history of affairs with subordinates

But it’s still unclear if those incidents played a part in his dismissal.

Visa’s then-innovation chief Jim McCarthy standing in front of Visa’s future of retail experience at the Wired Business Conference
Visa’s then-innovation chief Jim McCarthy at Visa’s future of retail experience at the Wired Business Conference on June 7, 2017.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Wired
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Years before top Visa exec Jim McCarthy was fired for “violating Visa policy,” he had affairs with two women at the company who worked for him in his division, four people with knowledge of the relationships told Recode.

At least one of the women reported directly to McCarthy, while another worked in his department, although it’s not clear if the second woman also reported to him.

The affairs took place in the early years of this decade while McCarthy was married, sources said. The two women with whom McCarthy had affairs left the company several years ago.

Neither woman replied to multiple requests for comment from Recode over the last week. McCarthy has also failed to respond to calls, text messages and emails over the last 10 days.

McCarthy spent 18 years at Visa and was most recently the company’s head of innovation and strategic partnerships — a role that gave him oversight over key deals with tech giants and gave him a high profile in Silicon Valley and on the conference circuit.

His teams oversaw Visa’s relationships with companies like Apple and Google for their Apple Pay and Android Pay services, as well as strategic investments and partnerships with fast-growing startups like Stripe and Klarna.

That changed recently. On Dec. 1, Visa President Ryan McInerney sent out a memo to Visa staff announcing that McCarthy was being fired for violating an unspecified company policy and engaging in behavior “that runs counter to our leadership principles and culture.”

That vague explanation immediately set off intense speculation across Visa and the industry, after Recode broke news of McCarthy’s ouster. Much of that discussion has focused on McCarthy’s past affairs and how they may — or may not — have played a role in his dismissal.

A Visa spokesperson declined to comment on whether affairs played a role in McCarthy’s exit, citing the confidentiality of the investigation that led to his dismissal. It’s unclear what action, if any, previous Visa management teams took when the relationships with subordinates were discovered.

After a divorce, McCarthy later entered into a relationship with a third woman who worked at Visa; the two recently married, sources said. This woman — who was already planning to retire from Visa at the end of this year — had previously been married to another Visa executive.

Her ex-husband, who left Visa earlier this year, also did not respond to messages seeking comment.

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