This is the stuff of which nightmares are made of. Yes, Mark Zuckerberg could no longer be in charge of Facebook, if a few influential shareholders have their way.
Who wants to kick Mark Zuckerberg out of Facebook? The people over at SumOfUs.org, a consumer watchdog whose members are also Facebook shareholders. Their aim is to limit Mark Zuckerberg’s power within Facebook by kicking him out of Facebook’s board of directors and appoint an independent chairperson who would be best suited to “oversee the executives of the company, improve corporate governance, and set a more accountable, pro-shareholder agenda.”
No, this isn’t the whim and fancy of a handful of people over at SumOfUs — they have signatures from 333,000 people on their petition who want Facebook to improve the way it functions and treats its employees, according to a report from Venturebeat. Out of all these petitioners, about 1,500 actually owned Facebook shares.
The demand is especially puzzling, because Facebook — under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg — has gone from strength to strength, posting record revenue last year with their stock price the highest it has ever been right now since the company went public. What’s more, Mark Zuckerberg has clearly articulated the vision of Facebook and where he sees the company going into the future, especially in the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality (where he hired Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra last month), and new video initiatives. Any one of these three pillars of Zuckerberg’s vision is crucial to realizing and ensuring future profitability of Facebook.
Shareholders of Facebook egged on by the SumOfUs petition are majorly pissed because last year Facebook cleared the issuance of new Class C shares, which largely ensures Mark Zuckerberg’s supreme control over the company continues to be limitless. The petition cites a huge power imbalance at the very top of the publicly traded company, which is why it recommends the ouster of Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook’s board of directors and appointing an independent chairperson to keep Zuckerberg’s power in check.
The petition claims this needs to be done immediately, especially when Facebook “faces increasing criticism regarding its perceived role in the promotion of misleading news; censorship, hate speech and alleged inconsistencies in the application of Facebook’s community standards guidelines and content policies; targeting of ad views based on race; collaboration with law enforcement and other government agencies; and calls for public accountability regarding the human rights impacts of Facebook’s practices.”
Will Zuckerberg actually step down?
Unlikely. Facebook will most likely crush the shareholder group’s demand, because Zuckerberg — as one of the largest shareholders of Facebook — can easily rally around support from other large individual shareholders of the company and just maintain status quo.
It’s not like Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg’s position in the company is an exception of any sort, especially when various companies have the same person in the role of CEO and Chairperson — Amazon, IBM, Tesla, and Netflix to name a few.