Priceline CEO quits over personal relationship with employee

Priceline CEO steps down
Priceline CEO Darren Huston steps down
Priceline tops on hotel bookings

Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston has resigned, effective immediately, following an investigation linked to a personal relationship that he had with an employee who was not under his direct supervision.

Huston resigned following an investigation overseen by independent members of the board into the circumstances surrounding the relationship.

"Everybody is in favor of finding love, but it's got to be found in the right place," Ted Snyder, professor of economics and management at Yale School of Management, told CNBC on Thursday. "A relationship between a CEO and an employee is typically not the right place," he said, adding that these types of relationships tend to be corrosive.

The investigation determined that Huston had acted contrarily to the company's code of conduct and had engaged in activities inconsistent with the board's expectations for executive conduct, which Huston acknowledged and for which he expressed regret.

"I am satisfied with the board's thorough review of this issue," James Guyette, lead independent director, said in a statement.

Priceline tops on hotel bookings

The online travel agency operator appointed former CEO and current chairman, Jeffery Boyd, as interim CEO while the board conducts a search to name a successor.

Huston will also step down as CEO of, a unit of Priceline. He will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Gillian Tans.

The company's stock was flat in the premarket before being halted for news pending Thursday.

Some investors worry about the company's bench strength amid appointing a previous CEO as its chief executive, but Anthony D'Angelo, professor of public relations at Syracuse University, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that bringing in Boyd was an immediate and neutral move, and overall it's an interim agreement.

"They've brought in their chair, the former CEO Jeffrey Boyd," he said. "It looks like there is continuity."

Priceline shares have advanced 6 percent this year and have surged nearly 30 percent in the last three months. It was down more than 2 percent and closed at $1,317.59 on Thursday.

PCLN in 2016

— CNBC's Terri Cullen, Denise Garcia and Reuters contributed to this report.