How to get away with Martha
With Twitter’s stock still in the toilet, the company has repeatedly talked up its plans to add diversity to its board.
Some commentators took that to mean more non-white faces -- Re/code reported Shonda Rhimes was about to be announced as a high profile addition. But no. The new additions turned out to be Pepsi exec Hugh Johnston and UK tech founder and member of the House of Lords, Martha Lane Fox, aka Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho.
Apparently what Twitter meant by board diversity was the addition of someone who tweets a lot, and someone who had never tweeted at all. As of today, Lane Fox (before you ask, it’s only hyphenated in her official title) has 17.6k tweets, sent to 194k followers. Johnston, on the other hand, has… two tweets, one of which is about his excitement at joining the board of a service he has barely ever used. He’s learning though! On Monday he retweeted something for the first time: “A farewell to football.”
Since signing up to Twitter, Johnston -- Dorsey’s big hope for increasing the mainstream appeal of his struggling company -- has just over 800 followers. Still, that’s not to say he doesn’t know a thing or two about troubled brands. He also sits on the board of AOL.
Snark aside, there’s clearly something else happening here. Re/Code has long been a place where board members leak positive stories about their companies. If Kara and Co reported Shonda Rhimes was joining Twitter’s board then it’s pretty certain she was close to signing. Indeed, we were hearing well-placed whispers that a big celebrity name was about to be appointed.
With all due respect to Baroness Lane-Fox, who is a big name in UK tech, she’s not quite a celebrity on his side of the Atlantic. All signs point to Rhimes, or someone of similar fame, getting cold feet at the very last minute.
Certainly, for Twitter’s sake, that’s what we have to hope happened. If Lane Fox and Johnston really are Jack Dorsey’s idea of diversity and really do represent his big play for attracting more mainstream users then, to channel Ms Rhimes, the company is done in three…