Facebook is appointing Peggy Alford to be the first African-American woman on its board, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings prepares to leave

FacebookPeggy Alford will be the first African American woman to serve on Facebook’s board of directors
  • There are significant changes afoot on Facebook’s board.
  • The company is nominating PayPal exec Peggy Alford for election to the board, and she will be the first African-American woman to serve as a director at Facebook.
  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and former White House official Erskine Bowles are leaving.

Facebook is shaking up its board of directors – nominating PayPal executive Peggy Alford, and preparing to part ways with the Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.

On Friday, the Silicon Valley tech giant announced the news as it released its proxy statement ahead of its annual shareholder meeting on May 30. Alford will be the first African-American woman to join the company’s board of directors, which has previously been criticised over its lack of diversity.

“What excites me about the opportunity to join Facebook’s board is the company’s drive and desire to face hard issues head-on while continuing to improve on the amazing connection experiences they have built over the years,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Mark and the other directors as the company builds new and inspiring ways to help people connect and build community.”

The changes come as Facebook struggles to move past two years of damaging scandals, from Cambridge Analytica to the social network’s role in spreading hate speech that fuelled genocide in Myanmar.

Bowles and Hastings will not stand for re-election at the annual shareholder meeting, the company said, bringing their time at the company to an end. The Netflix chief exec leaves as Facebook continues to push into video streaming, beefing up its video products and paying to stream original content on the platform.

Bowles, who served in the Clinton White House, is the chair of the board’s audit committee – the powers of which were boosted in mid-2018 amid Facebook’s various crises. His role at Facebook was thrust into the spotlight by a major investigation in The New York Times published in November 2018, which reported that he lashed out at CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg in 2017 about Russian activity on Facebook.

“When the full board gathered later that day at a room at the company’s headquarters reserved for sensitive meetings, Mr. Bowles pelted questions at Facebook’s founder and second-in-command,” the newspaper reported. “Ms. Sandberg, visibly unsettled, apologised. Mr. Zuckerberg, stone-faced, whirred through technical fixes.”

Alford, payments firm PayPal’s Senior VP of core markets, has previous ties to Zuckerberg: She was the the chief financial officer for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the family’s philanthropic vehicle, from September 2017 to February 2019.

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