July 7, 2016 - Issue 2.27 - 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.

Silicon Valley dominates this week’s board news: With the retirement last week of Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight, Apple CEO Tim Cook steps up as lead independent director of the Nike board—and critics immediately begin asking if Apple can afford for its leader to have any competing priorities. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer also hears from nay-sayers, with more than 100 million shareholder votes against her re-election to the company’s board last week. And Twitter announces its latest addition to the board is former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor. Meanwhile, the story of how Google board member Diane Greene became an executive at the company makes for a good read.

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The Hot Seat

Tim Cook Takes Some Heat for Expanding Role on Nike Board

“[Last] Thursday evening, Nike announced a change in management, which included Tim Cook taking on an expanded role at Nike as lead independent director. The filing also stated that Phil Knight, the founder of Nike was retiring but would remain involved with the company as chairman emeritus. Tim Cook has been a Nike director since 2005 and is the Chairman of the company’s compensation committee….Cook is taking an expanded role at Nike at a time when Apple stock has been stumbling and bumbling around for over a year.” FORBES

Across the Board

Curated news and insights from the world's boardrooms.

Twitter's Board Makeover Continues

“Twitter appointed Bret Taylor, a former senior executive at Facebook, to its board, continuing a makeover of its board of directors as it struggles to rev up its growth. Mr. Taylor, who joins Twitter’s board as its 10th member, served as Facebook’s chief technical officer from 2009 to 2012 before leaving the company to help found Quip, a workplace productivity start-up. Before Facebook, Mr. Taylor was a product manager for Google.” NEW YORK TIMES

From Board Member to Head of a Google Business Unit

“As a board member, [Diane] Greene, began advising Google executives on a missed opportunity: cloud computing. The idea of renting computing power to businesses had been around for some time, and Google had dabbled in it since 2008, when it first allowed startups to build their apps atop its prodigious network of data centers. But Google, distracted by other pursuits–search, maps, mobile and self-driving cars, to name a few–never got serious about the cloud business…. As Google came to terms with the opportunity, [cofounder Larry] Page asked [Greene} to take over the company’s cloud computing efforts. She demurred….” FORBES

Yahoo Shareholders Reluctantly Re-elect Mayer to Board

“Though Marissa Mayer was elected to Yahoo’s board of directors at the company’s shareholder meeting last week (June 30), investors made sure their qualms about the CEO were heard. Of Yahoo’s director nominees, Mayer received the fewest votes for and most votes against her board seat. In all, close to 105 million votes were cast in opposition to Mayer’s election to the board, according to an SEC filing. Of course, these votes were all for show, since there were 11 director nominees for 11 board positions.” QUARTZ

Activist Investors Slowing Down

“Activist hedge funds were choosier in throwing their weight around corporate boardrooms during the first half of the year as they managed a smaller cash pile and struggled to beat benchmark returns. Activist investors, including billionaires like Pershing Square’s William Ackman and Trian Fund Management’s Nelson Peltz, mounted 75 activist campaigns, a 7% drop from the first half of 2015 when they mounted 81, according to new data to be released on Tuesday by London-based research group Activist Insight.” FORTUNE

Does Your CEO Look The Part?

“They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But you can apparently conclude something about a CEO's performance by his or her facial features. Past research has shown that CEOs who have physical characteristics associated with power or dominance — things like a big mouth or a more widely shaped face — have been linked with better performing companies. Yet a new study shows that when it comes to chief executives of nonprofit organizations, the opposite appears to be true: Those who appear less powerful to people actually tend to have more success.” WASHINGTON POST

From the Boardspan Archives

Tapping The Strategic Potential of Boards

“Too many boards just review and approve strategy. Three questions can help them—and executives—begin to do better.” MCKINSEY via BOARDSPAN

A Seat at the Table

  • Cheryl L. Shavers Ph.D., CEO of strategy firm Global Smarts, a former Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology during the Clinton Administration, joins the board of Mentor Graphics, maker of electronic design automation software.
  • R. Scott Herren, SVP and CFO of cloud-based design and engineering software firm Autodesk, joins the board of cybersecurity company Proofpoint.
  • Edwards Lifesciences Corporation, designer of medical innovations for structural heart disease and critical care monitoring, appoints to its board Leslie S. Heisz, who has served in executive-level roles at financial firms including Lazard Freres & Co., Wasserstein Perella & Co. and Salomon Brothers.
  • Ener-Core, a supplier of systems that generate clean power from polluting waste gases like methane, welcomes to its board Stephen Markscheid, currently a partner at Shanghai-based financial advisory firm Wilton Partners and previously with GE Capital and Boston Consulting Group.


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