Facebook chief executive and chairman sees off a series of votes aimed at reducing his power at the social media giant
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has seen off a series of challenges by shareholders that sought to force him to relinquish some of his control over the company.
At the company’s annual general meeting in Silicon Valley’s Menlo Park last week, shareholders voted on eight propositions, including to appoint an independent board chairman, sell off Facebook’s subsidiaries and remove extra voting rights granted to directors.
Zuckerberg is both chief executive of the company and chair of its board of directors.
The firm’s current share structure means he controls about 58 percent of shareholder voting power, in spite of owning only 13 percent of the company’s total shares.
Due to that control, the propositions would only have succeeded if Zuckerberg had voted against himself.
Even so, the votes are an indication of the qualms some outside investors have over Facebook’s repeated scandals involving data protection, security breaches and the spread of misinformation.
“It is unwise to have so much power concentrated in one person,” said Jonas Kron, senior vice president at Trillium Asset Management, who proposed that an independent chairman should take Zuckerberg’s place as head of the board.
A small number of protestors gathered outside the hotel where the meeting took place, displaying an inflatable angry emoji.
When asked at the meeting if he would voluntarily cede some of his power, Zuckerberg declined to reply, instead reiterating a previous position that governments should set the rules for Facebook to follow.
Former Facebook executives including co-founder Chris Hughes and former security chief Alex Stamos have agreed that Zuckerberg wields too much control at the company, with Hughes calling Zuckerberg’s power “un-American”.
However, Facebook has continued to add users and to post better-than-expected growth through the past year of scandals, indicating that advertisers have not shied away from the platform.