Manufacturing 2023: WILLIAM ‘BILLY’ GIFFORD JR.
CEO, ALTRIA GROUP, HENRICO COUNTY
Gifford became Fortune 500 tobacco product manufacturer Altria’s CEO in 2020, after having served as president and CEO of subsidiary Philip Morris USA and holding other executive posts at Altria for the past 25 years.
After four challenging years, during which Altria saw the value of its 35% stake in Juul Labs’ e-cigarette company plummet from $12.8 billion to $250 million by the end of 2022, the tobacco manufacturer exchanged its minority stake in Juul in March for a nonexclusive license to some of Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property. Also in March, Altria agreed to acquire e-vapor maker Njoy Holdings for $2.75 billion in cash, and in May, the company settled at least 6,000 state and federal lawsuits related to Juul for $235 million. Shortly after Altria’s investment in Juul, the vaping company was sued by numerous states and individuals over accusations its products were being marketed to minors.
Altria plans to submit a heated capsule and nicotine pouch for Food and Drug Administration approval this year, and the company also has entered into a partnership with Japan Tobacco for the U.S. marketing of its heated tobacco products.
Gifford serves on the board of Catalyst, a global organization that promotes women-friendly workplaces.