Several Facebook investors back proposal to oust Zuckerberg as chairman

MANILA, Philippines – Several investors have joined a proposal to oust Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg as chairman, Wednesday, October 17, US time. 

The move comes after what has been the most challenging months for the social media giant, which saw it dealing with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, election meddling and interference, prevalent misinformation, and more recently, a hack involving 29 million victims. Recently, the company also announced Portal, a microphone- and camera-equipped device, in which the company faced criticism for being somewhat tone-deaf in light of the privacy issues it's facing. 

The ouster is being led by a firm called Trillium Asset Management, which has found backing from state authorities managing public funds invested in Facebook: the New York City comptroller, and state treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. US media outlets have described them "major" or "key" in their headlines. The proposal asks that Zuckerberg be removed as chairman, and make the position independent from his role as CEO. 

Said New York City comptroller Scott Stringer: “We need Facebook’s insular boardroom to make a serious commitment to addressing real risks – reputational, regulatory, and the risk to our democracy – that impact the company, its shareowners, and ultimately the hard-earned pensions of thousands of New York City workers. An independent board chair is essential to moving Facebook forward from this mess, and to reestablish trust with Americans and investors alike.”

Separating the positions of CEO and chairman is the "best governance practice that will be in the interest of shareholders, employees, users, and our democracy," the proposal said. Having a new chairman will dampen Zuckerberg's control in the company. 

The proposal, however, is also said to be largely symbolic: Zuckerberg owns 60% of the voting power among shareholders thanks to his owning a special kind of company stock that has 10 times the voting power. Still, the proposal suggests that Zuckerberg's position this year isn't on as steady legs as it had been in the past, and that there are players looking to check his power.

The proposal will be put to a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2019. A similar proposal was put forward in 2017 but didn't make the vote. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.