Nike has hired Dantley Davis as vice president of digital design, a sign that Nike plans to take bold steps on its digital platforms.
Davis has deep roots in the tech industry. As detailed in my profile last year, Davis was previously Twitter’s first chief design officer (and the company’s first black executive to report to the CEO). There he attempted to rid the platform of toxic behavior while face charges foster a hostile workplace. He was later fired as part of a reorganization. Before that, Davis helped create Netflix’s Digital Interface, a system that has been cloned by virtually every media streaming company today.
Designers with C-suite experience are rare. In Davis, Nike lands a hands-on designer-leader who studies user behavior closely, experiments publicly, and has a fast metabolism for shipping product. Davis made the announcement on Twitter yesterday, and Nike has since confirmed his hire.
Today marks the next chapter in my career and I am honored to join Nike as Vice President of Digital Design. Nike stands for sport, culture, music and fashion, which sounds like a dream combination! #Just do it pic.twitter.com/FEtnhYBu1F
—Dantley Davis (@dantley) April 14, 2022
Nike shoe design has always been inventive, and it still is today; but under Davis, a digital design strategy will be key to the company’s continued growth. Nike’s e-commerce sales have rebounded after a historically slow start in the space…up 33% in 2022— and the company now generates 26% of all revenue through its digital platforms.
Exercise platforms are another key growth area for Nike. And although Nike has quietly given away some of its first dominance in digital training at Apple, Peloton and a host of other competitors, its Run Club exercise app has received rave reviews, and Nike claimed the app drove 30% digital sales growth in China during the pandemic.
During an interview in Beaverton, Oregon, last year, Matt Nurse, Vice President of Nike Explore Team Sport Research Lab, told me that Nike plans to use its digital platforms to dig deeper into your biometric data to to offer more personalized training. better, of course, but also to prevent injury and help you recover from it. With data from thousands of people, Nike can see how quickly users can expect to gain strength and speed based on biometrics, and it can optimize individual workouts accordingly. From there, Nike wants to not only sell you the right pair of shoes to complement your training, but also use digital platforms to build your own mental resilience and motivate you to achieve your goals.
“As we begin to push the boundaries of science and what we can do through a behavioral lens, how can we help you make good decisions? When to do more, when to do less? says the nurse. “There will be a mental side, there will be an injury side, but we also have a [ideal] version of ourselves. Like saying, ‘I want to run a marathon.’ Some of us aren’t cut out to run a marathon, but as a company of hopes and dreams, what can we do to give you that experience that can be just as good for you and your journey? »
Suffice it to say, this is a lofty vision, one that will push the boundaries of science and design with equal measure. It’s unclear what role, if any, Davis will play in that future, and Nike declined to make him available for an interview. But Nike’s upcoming challenges are obviously fertile ground for someone with Davis’ experience.