Jim Breyer of Accel Partners has resigned his board seat on Facebook, Wal-Mart and Dell. Will the other shoe drop for his seat on News Corp? (Nasdaq:FB) (NYSE:WMT) (Nasdaq:DELL) and (Nasdaq:NWS)
Officially he is citing time management issues. In other words he does not have time for these three maybe four corporations. Glad to hear that. What was he thinking as he was recruited, considered and then accepted the positions.
The resignation begs a few questions. Was the mix of board duties too onerous. Facebook with an infamous IPO and now trying to substantiate ridiculous PE rations. Wal-Mart with corruption and bribery scandals plus a not so good-looking expansion attempt into India. Dell with a problematic take-over with daily blow-by-blow updates. News Corp with its wiretapping scandals in London.
Well lets put it this way he must have had round after round of extremely interesting board meetings. Like write a book buddy it’ll sell big.
The real question is are venture capitalists suited to be directors of boards of large corporations. Facebook became a whale from seed capital in a very short time so they are excluded. But Wal-Mart, Dell and News Corp are all big players who need substantial time involvement. No one said it would be a breeze when he signed on.
Is something happening at Dell that makes him want to get off? Probably just a convenient co-incident. But clearly as a venture capitalist you need time to assess new opportunities and you need time to nurture the seeds that have been planted. But that is nothing new if you are a venture capitalist.
Will other Accel Partners and senior contributors also cut back on other board memberships.
In August, 2010, Fortune Magazine named Breyer one of the 10 smartest people in technology, and the smartest investor in technology. On September 2, 2011, it was announced that Breyer had been nominated to serve on the board of News Corporation In October 2011, he was elected with over 98% of the shareholder vote.
In April 2013, a lobbying group called FWD.us (aimed at lobbying for immigration and improvements to education) was launched, with Jim Breyer listed as one of the founders. Go figure just a few weeks ago he became political. Maybe that’s its. But then again it was started by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. Seems a bit coordinated but the choreography is free form for now.
He is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics. Sits on a variety of philanthropic boards, supporting both Harvard and Stanford. At Wal-Mart he was the lead independent director so the resignation is big stuff.
The man is 51 and still has energy, owns a piece of an iconic basketball team and is in the time management problem of a life time. Oh well so what is next for Jim Breyer.
Careful about appointing venture capitalists onto boards of companies which need time but are not venture capital. Could it be the time value return on a per hour basis was insufficient.
Stay tuned this one has not fully played out.
George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective.