May 19, 2016 - Issue 2.20 - Your weekly news on all things board.
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Director's Domain: News & views for today's boardroom. Brought to you by Boardspan.
Stepping up to the challenge. The remaking of the Twitter board, which has been on CEO Jack Dorsey’s to-do list since he rejoined the company last year, is happening. This week, saw the introduction of a fourth new director: BET CEO and chair Debra Lee, now Twitter’s first African-American board member, not to mention a media-savvy CEO and former general counsel — a welcome addition to a board that has been faulted for leaning too male and too white. Still, there is much more that can be done to increase boardroom diversity, as this week’s news, once again, points out…

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The Hot Seat

#win-win for Twitter

“BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee has been appointed to serve on Twitter’s board. Lee first announced her appointment herself on Twitter Monday, saying that the company had ‘transformed the media and the world like few other things in history.’ Lee is in many ways a win-win for Twitter: She brings some much-needed diversity to the company’s board, while also adding further media expertise. She has been the CEO of BET for over a decade, after joining the network in 1986 as a legal counsel. Lee is also Twitter’s first African-American board member.” VARIETY

Busting the Diversity Myths

“The news that Debra Lee, the chairman and CEO of BET, joining Twitter’s board couldn't have come without courageously defiant people like software engineer Leslie Miley who made national news when he left his job at Twitter citing frustration over the company's approach to diversity. Inclusion is an inescapable and necessary consequence of a global economy…. Industry leaders such as Facebook, Apple and Samsung are all looking to underrepresented markets for the next wave of growth as they saturate traditional markets.… Diversity is endowed with tremendous powers to open new markets, unearth novel innovations, create economic impact and social change, so why does it remain so illusive?” LINKEDIN PULSE

Why So Few Hispanic Board Members?

“Efforts to diversify America’s corporate boards with more minorities and women are still lagging, and Hispanics, in particular, are far behind other groups in being selected for directorships, according to an annual report on the board composition of large companies. Over all, 399 new directors were selected for the top company boards last year. Hispanics claimed only 4 percent of those appointments, or 16 seats. … ‘The percentage of Hispanics appointed to such boards has not improved in recent years, even as they comprise 17 percent of the overall U.S. population,’ said Bonnie W. Gwin, a co-managing partner of the executive recruitment company’s global C.E.O. and board practice.” NEW YORK TIMES

Across the Board

Curated news and insights from the world's boardrooms.


Investor to Pandora: Sale Would Be Music to Our Ears!

“In a blistering letter to Pandora’s board of directors, activist investor and Carl Icahn protege Keith Meister is calling for the company to put itself up for sale.… Meister said that he and his team have ‘become increasingly concerned that the company may be pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximizing alternatives….’” FORBES

10 Traits of Strategic Leaders

“Most companies have leaders with the strong operational skills needed to maintain the status quo. But they are facing a critical deficit: They lack people in positions of power with the know-how, experience, and confidence required to tackle what management scientists call ‘wicked problems.’ …  These [needed] leaders tend to have several common personality traits: They can challenge the prevailing view without provoking outrage or cynicism; they can act on the big and small picture at the same time, and change course if their chosen path turns out to be incorrect; and they lead with inquiry as well as advocacy, and with engagement as well as command, operating all the while from a deeply held humility and respect for others." STRATEGY + BUSINESS

Governance by Code?

“Can a company run itself without executives or managers or a board of directors? One of the more radical experiments in technology aims to find out. A group called DAO, which stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, is running itself via computer code on a network. Every operating detail, from governance to day-to-day operations to payment schedules, is laid out in the code that runs the company. There are no incorporation papers, board of directors or CEO. The DAO began a crowdfunding effort on April 30 … and as of Saturday had raised more than $107 million, according to the company’s publicly viewable digital wallet on Ethereum.” WALL STREET JOURNAL

In CEOs We (Must) Trust

“Repeated lapses. An alarmed board. And a CEO who didn’t seem to fully reveal what he knew. Days before LendingClub Corp. ousted founder and Chief Executive Officer Renaud Laplanche, board members thought they’d settle for stripping him of his chairman title over a few missteps, then move on. But as they pressed him for details about what happened and what he knew, frustrations mounted, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Questions persisted over $3 million of misdated loans and Laplanche’s perceived failure to disclose his interests in an outside fund before LendingClub invested $10 million of its money. Though relatively small-dollar issues, they spiraled into a breakdown of trust, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters.” BLOOMBERG BUSINESS

Theranos Reshuffles Board and Executive Team

“Theranos Inc.’s president is leaving the blood-testing startup as the company reconfigures its board, adding a former Amgen Inc. executive and two others as directors. Sunny Balwani, who also was chief operating officer and a board member, will 'support the transition process' as Palo Alto, California-based Theranos seeks to fill 'multiple executive positions,' according to a company statement on Wednesday… At the same time, Theranos said it would add Fabrizio Bonanni, former executive vice president of operations at the biotechnology giant Amgen, to its board. Theranos will also transfer William Foege, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Richard Kovacevich, former chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co., from its advisory board of counselors to its board of directors, according to the statement.” BLOOMBERG BUSINESS

Does Apple Have the Board It Needs?

“The best thing about Apple’s Board is that it is not helmed by [CEO Tim] Cook.… Apple’s Board includes [Chairman Arthur Levincon, former CEO of Genentech] Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, two former aerospace executives, James Bell and Ronald Sugar, Susan Wagner of BlackRock… Andrea Jung, CEO of Grameen America, a microlending NPO, and, bizarrely enough, Al Gore. Why two retired aerospace execs?  Why are there no representatives from companies that make consumer products?  Why are there no 'techies' other than Levinson on the Board of a company that is headquartered in Silicon Valley?  What possible reason–though his role on the Compensation Committee certainly fits his experience since his political career ended ignominiously in November 2000–could there be for the inclusion of Gore?” FORBES

Board Suspends CEO of Fintech Firm

"Philippe Buhannic, the chief executive officer of TradingScreen Inc., has been suspended by the company’s directors over questions about his conduct, touching off a battle for control of the financial-software firm, according to court filings. Some company board members sued Buhannic, who co-founded TradingScreen in 1999, to prevent him from interfering in company operations while he’s on a six-month paid leave, according to filings unsealed Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court. The 59-year-old CEO was placed on leave because he faces “serious allegations” about his conduct, directors said in the unsealed court filings." BLOOMBERG BUSINESS

Square Loses Its Magic

“NBA hall of famer Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Jr., who made millions in business after his basketball career, has resigned from the board of directors of mobile payments company Square, leaving less than a year after he joined. Johnson has been raising capital for a new venture focused on US infrastructure upgrades. He funded the company more quickly than he thought he would, requiring him to devote more time to it, according to a letter resignation letter he sent to CEO Jack Dorsey this week.” CNET
A Seat at the Table

Deirdre M. Bigley, CMO for financial media company Bloomberg, joins the board of Shutterstock, a provider of commercial imagery and music. ★ Ron Huddleston, corporate VP at Microsoft and former SVP at, joins the board of Aviso, a supplier of predictive insights for sales management and forecasting. ★ ASSIA, a supplier of broadband services welcomes to its board former CTO of Time Warner Cable Jim Chiddix. ★ Mattress maker Select Comfort Corporation appoints to its board Vicki A. O’Meara, CEO of Analytics Pros and Barbara R. Matas, former managing director and chairman, Leveraged Finance, of Citigroup Global Markets. ★ Maxwell Technologies, a supplier of ultracapacitor-based energy storage and delivery solutions, appoints to its board Steve Bilodeau, former CEO of Standard Microsystems Corporation. ★ WiTricity, which specializes in wireless power transfer over distance, appoints to its board Mary Chan, who has more than 25 years of global management experience in organizations including General Motors Corporation, Dell, Alcatel-Lucent/Lucent Technologies and AT&T Network Systems. ★ Saundra Schrock, a managing partner at Equanimity Leadership Solutions  and former JP Morgan Chase consumer lending executive, joins the board of Elevate Credit, a provider of online credit solutions for non-prime consumers. ★ Viramal, a specialty pharmaceutical company appoints to its board Angela Rossetti, EVP and chief commercial officer at Cell Machines and formerly a VP at Pfizer. ★ Impinj, which delivers real-time inventory and item-location information to businesses, welcomes Theresa Wise, former CIO for Delta Airlines.★
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