Mark Zuckerberg refuses to step down as Facebook chairman amid challanges
Mark Zuckerberg has rejected calls for him to step down as the chair of Facebook’s board.
In an interview with CNN, Mr Zuckerberg said ”that’s not the plan… I’m not currently thinking that that makes sense.”
His comments follow growing calls from investors for Facebook to appoint an independent board chair.
Jonas Kron, a senior vice president at Trillium Asset Management, a US investor which owns an £8.5m stake in Facebook, said Zuckerberg to relinquish his chairman role.
“Facebook is behaving like it’s a special snowflake,” he said. “It’s not. It is a company and companies need to have a separation of chair and CEO.”
Investors believe that Zuckerberg’s control of Facebook stops the business being able to properly address its problems.
As well as serving as chief executive and chairman, the Facebook founder also controls around 60pc of the company’s voting shares.
Zuckerberg’s control is “an exercise in hiding that there is a problem rather than admitting that there is a problem and setting a roadmap to fixing it,” said Facebook investor Natasha Lamb, a managing partner at Arjuna Capital.
A recent New York Times report exposed Facebook’s use of public relations firm Definers which conducted opposition research on the social network’s critics. Much of the blame over the issue had been directed towards Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
However, Mr Zuckerberg defended Mrs Sandberg in the interview with CNN. “Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues that we have,” he said.
“She’s been an important partner to me for ten years. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done together and I hope that we work together for decades more to come,” Mr Zuckerberg added.
The interview with CNN came as TechCrunch published an internal memo from Facebook’s current head of public policy, Elliot Schrage, in which he took responsibility for hiring Definers.
Mr Schrage announced in June that he plans to leave Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company has subsequently hired former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg to replace him.
“I knew and approved of the decision to hire Definers and similar firms,” Mr Schrage wrote in the memo. “I should have known of the decision to expand their mandate.”
Elsewhere in the leaked document, Mr Schrage defended the use of opposition research. “I believe it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics,” he said.