The Private Tech Board Crisis and What to Do About It

Two years ago, blood testing startup Theranos began its collapse after journalist John Carreyrou revealed some of its technology was a fraud. At the time, I argued that the unraveling of the $9 billion company wasn’t just a failure of a single technology or CEO; it was a failure of the Theranos board and a wake-up call for the private tech ecosystem that prizes directors who embolden, not challenge, powerful tech founders.

Sadly, very little has changed. This week, in an extensive report on the boards of 30 private tech companies, The Information’s Alfred Lee revealed that governance in the Valley is still pitiful. Companies like Airbnb, WeWork and Stripe eschew basic practices like disclosing their share price and appointing independent directors. And these boards aren’t representative of the people they serve. Half are still all-male. Only 10% of directors at the 30 companies are women, and 85% of them are white. You can read Alfred’s overview here and our rankings here.

No subscription? You’re missing out.
Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information’s original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 604 words of this article.
What’s included in a subscription?
Read The Information’s original, in-depth reporting and analysis
Receive as-they-happen articles via email
Talk with award-winning reporters in subscriber-only conference calls
Join the conversation on our subscriber-only Slack channel
Attend intimate, high-powered events with leaders in tech and business
Subscribe to The Information

There is one silver lining to the private tech scandals of 2017: Neither the media nor tech employees believe any longer that private tech CEOs should operate without scrutiny. It’s time to apply the same standard to the people who hire them.

4 total comments
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Mark H. Goldstein and 2 others commented on this article.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Athletic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.
A few investors and entrepreneurs (all male) have been quick to tell me that private tech companies don’t need independent directors because their stock is closely held.