Billion-dollar investor tells Facebook: Just Zuck off, already!
NYC Pensions handler calls for shakeup as social network continues to stumble
One of Facebook's major investors is calling on the social network to drop CEO Mark Zuckerberg from its board as part of a management shakeup.
Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller and the person in charge of investing the city's $195bn pension fund, called on Facebook to add three new independent members to its board of directors and remove Zuckerberg as chairman of the board.
Stringer, who estimates his city's fund has sunk about $1bn into purchasing Facebook shares, called on the board to make changes in the wake of revelations on the company's cooperation with Cambridge Analytica in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
While Stringer says he does not plan to pull the Big Apple's investment bucks out of Facebook, he is calling directly on the board to consider his request for a shake-up in the wake of a data scandal that saw the company lop $50bn from its market cap and lose the trust of many users.
Currently, Facebook's board of directors consists of Zuckerberg (who is chairman), COO Sheryl Sandberg, VCs Marc Andreesen, Peter Thiel, Erskine Bowles, and Kenneth Chenault, Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond Hellmann, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum.
"We think there needs to be more independent board oversight, I think there needs to be an independent chairman of the board," Stringer said in a TV interview.
"I think we need more independent directors, and directors that have experience in terms of data, and ethics, and all the things that these emerging huge companies need in light of what's happened."
There's a risk to our democracy
The 'what's happened' in this case being the revelation that Facebook had allowed a researcher to harvest the data of around 50 million of its users for use in creating targeted ad campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential elections for political strategists at Cambridge Analytica.
"There's a risk to our democracy," Stringer said.
"This third-party company rerouted data that ended up benefiting a presidential candidate and in light of the Mueller investigation I think Congress has to ask these tough questions."
Stringer concedes that, when it comes down to it his group won't have much sway, even with the billion-dollar investment. Because Zuckerberg controls around 60 per cent of the voting shares, the Facebook CEO has the power to stamp out pretty much any effort that he doesn't approve of. Instead, Stringer says, he hopes to appeal to Zuck and the board's interest in the company's bottom line.
"We're not trying to harm Facebook, we're trying to make it a stronger company," the comptroller contends.
"When something like this happens, and maybe it was a long time coming in light of these investigations we really have an obligation to step up."
Meanwhile, at Facebook
The social network proved this week that it doesn't need help to embarrass itself. Reports have surfaced that some deleted videos were not actually being wiped from Facebook servers and could still be accessed. Facebook has said the saved videos were the result of a 'bug' and that it would resolve the issue and delete the videos for real.
Then there's Zuck himself, who couldn't help but pick a fight with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Shortly after Cook was quoted as saying of Facebook "we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product," the Zuck fired back saying "I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth."
And if there's one thing we know about Zuckerberg, he's a man with the upmost respect for his user base. Then again - Cook's Chinese customers might have a few words to say about not selling out customers to curry favor with a government.
And finally, but not at all least, an internal Facebook white paper has shown that Donald Trump's US presidential campaign "better leveraged Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes" than Hillary Clinton's team. ®