Some observations about Twitter’s appointment of a new member to its board, which the San Francisco company announced in a filing today:
• Did you hear? Marjorie Scardino is a woman. Twitter has gotten some flak — which included a war of words involving Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who was among other things called a part of the tech “mafia” — for the lack of a female presence on its board. Facebook, the company that is often compared with Twitter, now has two women on its board; they were appointed just in the past year. Women have made slow gains in the boardroom, but still reportedly only make up less than 18 percent of directors at S&P 500 Index company boards in 2013.
• Scardino is former CEO of Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, as well as former CEO of The Economist Group. Again, this is another example of Twitter bringing aboard those with “old media” experience. As we wrote recently, new tech companies and “old media” are realizing they need one another. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook know their users value news, so the companies have placed importance on their relationships with the news media. In Twitter’s case, it recently hired former NBC News executive Vivian Schiller to head news and journalism partnerships. With Scardino joining the board, Twitter not only gains more “traditional” media experience among its brain trust, it also brings in someone who knows something about how tech companies work. Scardino served on the board of Nokia for about a dozen years.
• Scardino has tweeted exactly once, and only a few hours ago: “There couldn’t be a more exciting time in Twitter’s history to join!” Does that matter? Other board members aren’t exactly Twitter chatterboxes, either. Quartz did the count, and only company co-founders Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams and CEO Costolo have several thousand tweets, and Peter Fenton has more than 1,000. The remaining four Twitter board members, including Scardino, have between 1 to about 100 tweets each.
Photo: Marjorie Scardino attends Nokia’s annual general meeting in 2012. The former Nokia board member has become the first woman to be appointed to Twitter’s board. (Kimmo Brandt/EPA archives)