Facebook taps COO Sandberg to be first woman on board
By Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg a director on Monday, elevating the first woman to a board that includes seven men.
For years one of the most vocal critics of the gender imbalance in Silicon Valley's executive ranks, Sandberg, 42, joined Facebook in 2008 and played a central role in guiding the social networking company to its $16 billion IPO in May.
Her promotion comes as Facebook seeks to cultivate a more mature image as opposed to the college dorm-room startup reputation that has dogged the company since Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg founded it in 2004.
"Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years," Zuckerberg, 28, said in a statement. "Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board."
Still, even after Facebook elevated Sandberg on Monday, the composition of its board remains a continuing point of scrutiny for a young company that has touched countless industries and boasts close to a billion users from every corner of the world.
The California State Teachers' Retirement System, the second-largest largest pension fund in the United States, which owns 36,922 shares of Facebook, applauded Sandberg's promotion, but urged the company to "continue diversifying the board toward greater independence and representation of the Company's user base."
Apart from Sandberg, the company's board is made up of seven Caucasian men, largely Silicon Valley insiders aligned closely with Zuckerberg. They include Zuckerberg himself; venture capitalists James W. Breyer, Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel; Washington Post Co chairman, Donald E. Graham; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; and Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff and the University of North Carolina president emeritus.
"We are optimistic Facebook is on its way to further expanding the board while simultaneously creating the diversity and independence we think is important to the future sustainability of this vibrant company," said Jack Ehnes, CEO of the California State Teachers' Retirement System. But, he added, "We're not there yet." Continued...