Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to keep venture capitalist Peter Thiel on the company’s board of directors.
Zuckerberg’s decision comes after weeks of controversy over whether it was appropriate for billionaire Thiel, who recently admitted to secretly funding a campaign of third-party lawsuits to bankrupt Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s US parent company, to remain on the board of a company that now plays such a powerful role in publishing.
At Facebook’s annual shareholders meeting yesterday, every board member was up for re-election. The decision was made by shareholder vote, but ultimately fell to Zuckerberg, who controls more than 60 per cent of the total voting power on the Facebook board.
The meeting was also used to give Zuckerberg even more influence over the company he created for the foreseeable future. Board members voted to create a new class of non-voting stock, allowing Zuckerberg to sell shares without having to concede any of his majority voting control.
Ahead of the vote, Facebook’s leadership was tightlipped about the controversy over Thiel continuing as a member of the company’s board. “Peter did what he did on his own and not as a Facebook board member,” Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said of Thiel’s decision to fund lawsuits against Gawker Media at the Code Conference earlier this month. “We didn’t know about it, and you should talk to him.”
[Disclosure: Facebook has launched a program that pays publishers, including the New York Times and Buzzfeed, to produce videos for its Facebook Live tool. Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company, recently joined that program.]