- It’s now clear that independent Facebook investors voted overwhelmingly in support of proposals last week to fire Mark Zuckerberg as chairman and scrap the firm’s share structure.
- According to the results of votes at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting, 68% of outside investors want the company to hire an independent chairman. The majority was up from 51% last year.
- Despite the revolt, the proposals did not pass because of Zuckerberg’s voting control of the stock, which means he can swat away shareholder demands.
- “Arrogance is not a substitute for good corporate governance,” Michael Connor, who helped coordinate action among activist Facebook investors, said.
- NEW: Facebook investors open new front in war on Zuckerberg. Now they want an independent investigation into his ‘outsized’ power.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
The Facebook shareholder revolt just got bloody.
Facebook revealed in a filing on Monday how investors voted on a raft of proposals at its annual shareholder meeting last week – and the results underline the unrest among outside investors.
According to an analysis of the results by Open Mic – an organization that works with activist shareholders to overhaul corporate governance at America’s biggest companies – independent shareholders overwhelmingly backed two proposals to weaken Mark Zuckerberg’s power.
Some 68% of ordinary investors, those who are not part of management or the board, want to oust Zuckerberg as chairman and bring in an independent figure to chair Facebook’s board. This was a significant increase on the 51% who voted in favor of an almost identical proposal last year.
Shareholders are furious at the way Zuckerberg has handled a series of Facebook scandals, including election interference on the social network in 2016 and the giant Cambridge Analytica data breach last year. They think the company would benefit from an independent chairman meant to hold Zuckerberg and his top team accountable.
Facebook's share price fell dramatically last year following the Cambridge Analytica disaster, while weaker-than-expected growth compounded the downturn. The stock has not fully recovered after hitting a high of $217.50 on July 25 last year. Shares plunged 7.5% to $164.15 on Monday over the possibility of an antitrust investigation.
Furthermore, 83.2% of outside shareholders also backed a proposal to scrap Facebook's dual-class share structure. Currently, class A shareholders have one vote for each share, while class B shareholders get 10 votes a share. Management and directors control class B shares.
In fact, Zuckerberg happens to own more than 75% of class B stock, meaning he has roughly 60% of the voting power at Facebook. He and colleagues voted down the independent chairman proposal and the dual-class share plans, meaning they were crushed despite the uprising from outside investors. Put another way, Zuckerberg and his closest allies always have the trump card if they disagree with shareholders.
In a statement sent to Business Insider, Open Mic's executive director, Michael Connor, said the results sent a clear message to Facebook management. "The results speak for themselves," he said. "Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook board need to listen to the company's shareholders. Arrogance is not a substitute for good corporate governance."
"Investors are clearly concerned and want change," added Jonas Kron, who runs the activist shareholder Trillium Asset Management, which put forward the call for an independent chairman. "This level of support is rarely seen in shareholder proposals."
Business Insider has contacted Facebook for comment.