By Kurt Wagner:Recode
Facebook has its annual shareholders meeting on Monday morning.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a decision to make.
On Monday morning, Zuckerberg and Facebook will host the company’s annual shareholders meeting in which every one of Facebook’s board members will be up for re-election. That includes Peter Thiel, the billionaire PayPal co-founder who recently succeeded in his efforts to bankrupt Gawker Media.
Those efforts have left people wondering whether Facebook — which is already dealing with the perception that it’s manipulating your news — might try to distance itself from Thiel and his new “I’m gonna squash publications I don’t like” reputation.
Thiel is also a Donald Trump supporter, and while you’d normally hope someone’s political affiliation wouldn’t impact an important business decision, Trump has a way of alienating and offending massive groups of people — groups of people that are very important to Facebook’s business. It’s hard to imagine Zuckerberg isn’t bothered by the association.
Which brings us back to Monday, when Zuckerberg will ultimately decide whether or not Thiel stays on the board. It’s technically up for shareholder vote, but Zuckerberg owns more than 60 percent of Facebook’s total voting power. So it will be his call.
But remember this: Facebook already said that Thiel would stay. COO Sheryl Sandberg said it quite clearly at Recode’s annual Code Conference at the end of the May, after it became public that Thiel was funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker.
“Peter [Thiel] did what he did on his own. Not as a board member,” Sandberg said. When asked point blank by an attendee if he’ll remain on the board, Sandberg replied, “Yes.”
So unless something has changed in the past three weeks, expect Thiel to stay put. And if he isn’t voted in, well, Facebook will have some explaining to do.