Mike Isaac

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Former Genentech Exec Susan Desmond-Hellmann Joins Facebook’s Board of Directors

Susan-desmond-hellmanFacebook named University of California San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann to the social giant’s board of directors, the company announced on Wednesday, the second woman and ninth addition to the company’s board.

“Sue has a great track record of building and managing a diverse set of organizations, so her insights will be valuable as we continue to expand into new areas,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement. “Her experience shaping public policy and operating public companies fits well with the rest of the board and will make us an even stronger company.”

Desmond-Hellmann isn’t a stranger to Facebook’s top brass. During her tenure at biotech giant Genentech as president of product development, she overlapped with current Facebook CFO David Ebersman, where the two developed a personal relationship.

Of note, as Zuckerberg alludes to in his canned quote: Desmond-Hellmann has experience at the top ranks of closely scrutinized, large publicly traded companies — something crucial to Facebook going forward.

But perhaps of equal importance, this marks Facebook’s second female addition after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg joined the board last year (in what some would say was a long overdue appointment).

As has been noted consistently by Kara Swisher over the years, Web 2.0 companies are famously lacking in female board member representation, though a handful of companies like eBay, Zynga and others have bucked the all-male board trend.

Desmond-Hellmann also sits on the board of directors for Procter and Gamble, and serves as a trustee for the non-profit research organization, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google