Will Twitter Add a Woman Director Before the IPO?
There’s no question that the Twitter board is full of accomplished and competent directors, perhaps more so than many other Internet companies at the same moment in their development.
Ahead of its impending IPO, consider: Former Netscape CFO and well-known investor Peter Currie, former New Corp COO and successful Hollywood mogul Peter Chernin, under-the-radar Silicon Valley power investor Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital, former DoubleClick CEO and savvy entrepreneur David Rosenblatt, high-profile Twitter co-founder and chairman Jack Dorsey (who is also CEO and founder of hot payments startup Square), serial entrepreneur Evan Williams (now working on an innovative new publishing platform called Medium), and, finally, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, the longtime Web exec who has managed to whip the once-chaotic company into shape.
The group also, unlike many boards, has been unusually involved in the development of the microblogging company — from Currie’s help in the recent public offering process, to Rosenblatt’s straightforward questioning about its recent acquisition of MoPub, to Chernin’s strategic insights, to the major media landscape that Twitter is trying to work with. And Fenton and Dorsey have been, according to many sources, unusually active in helping Costolo and others in solidifying its management and product approach.
But, as AllThingsD reported a year ago, the company has still come up woefully short in its efforts to diversify its board, especially in adding a woman to its ranks.
The lack of a female director on its board even caused one board member to make a naughty joke that has been widely repeated inside the company — and forgive me in advance for this — that Twitter’s governing body has to expand beyond “three Peters and a Dick.”
Thus, the company has placed a top priority on adding a woman to the current all-male roster, according to sources close to the situation, as well as hiring a search firm to gin up names of candidates.
That list, according to sources, was topped by — in the biggest wish of all time, perhaps — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While there has been no official outreach to Clinton, who is likely to run for president in the next election, and might be busy, a number of other potential female directors have already been interviewed. But none have been selected as yet.
Said one person close to the situation: “It is a stated goal of the board, and we had hoped to have a woman director before the IPO.”
The lack of a woman on the board of a company is particularly glaring, given that numerous studies show that more women use Twitter than men, and that it is aiming to be a global company that represents, well, all of humanity.
As I wrote more than two years ago, many private Web 2.0 companies have few women board members, unlike a number of public tech companies.
The boards of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Zynga, LinkedIn and eBay now include at least one woman.
But Twitter still does not have any — its lack of racial diversity is also striking — making it a less-than-diverse situation. How quickly it remedies the situation will be interesting to see.