Facebook announced today in a regulatory filing that 36-year-old Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston will join the company’s board of directors.
Forbes estimates Houston is worth $1.3 billion, which makes him the fifth billionaire to be appointed to Facebook’s board of directors of its eight members. The others are company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (worth an estimated $75.7 billion), COO Sheryl Sandberg ($1.6 billion), and early investors Peter Thiel ($2.3 billion) and Marc Andreessen ($1.3 billion).
The staggering wealth on Facebook’s board is rare, even for blue-chip Silicon Valley companies. By comparison, Google-owner Alphabet has only four billionaires of the 11 board members (Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Ram Shriram and L. John Doerr), and Amazon has only one (Jeff Bezos).
Houston’s addition to Facebook’s board resurfaces questions about whether it can act independently, and whether it’s able to provide a legitimate check on Zuckerberg’s influence over the company.
Zuckerberg and Houston are well-documented friends in Silicon Valley. The two have been photographed playing ping-pong together, and Bloomberg reports Houston has asked Zuckerberg for advice in the past.
This type of cozy relationship between Zuckerberg and an independent board member has become an issue for the company in the past. In 2016, Facebook shareholders filed a lawsuit against the board accusing member Marc Andreessen of advising Zuckerberg rather than representing the interests of investors.
The shareholders in the lawsuit claimed Andreessen unfairly coached Zuckerberg through the stock reclassification process that allowed him to sell Facebook shares and fund his new philanthropy project without losing his majority voting status. Facebook settled the lawsuit about one year later.
“It’s been inspiring to watch Facebook grow into a platform that reaches billions of people around the world. I’m looking forward to working with Mark and the rest of the Board on the many opportunities and challenges ahead,” Houston said in a statement.
Zuckerberg remains firmly in control of Facebook’s future because of his controlling ownership stake in the company’s dual-class stock structure. Facebook shares [FB] slipped less than 1% after hours.