Barry Diller’s decision to invite the daughter of dear friends Bill and Hillary Clinton to serve on the board of his IAC/InterActive Corp. is not exactly a ringing endorsement of robust corporate governance.
Crony capitalism? Perhaps.
Chelsea Clinton, no doubt, is a poised, accomplished and intelligent woman. As daughter of a governor, president, first lady, senator and secretary of state, Clinton has got to have connections, even if they were gained through osmosis.
A media baron like Diller though is hardly in need of connections.
In the private sector, Chelsea did stints at management consultant McKinsey & Co. and hedge fund operator Avenue Capital when she was in her 20s and is now pursuing a doctorate at Oxford University. She remains involved in the family businesses, The Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Is that the background sought by executive recruiters hunting for candidates for board service at public companies? Hardly. If Chelsea’s last name was “McCauley,” would she be invited to serve on IAC’s 14-member board? No way!
At 31, how can Clinton match the real life experiences of fellow board members? That includes grizzled corporate executives 84-year-old Don Keough (former Coca-Cola Co. president & COO and Allen & Co. chairman), 71-year-old Arthur Martinez (ex-CEO of Sears Roebuck), 69-year-old Michael Eisner (ex-head of Walt Disney Co.) and 67-year-old Victor Kaufman (one-time CEO of Columbia Pictures Entertainment and current IAC vice chairman).
Other board members include the media savvy trio of Edgar Bronfman, Jr. (Warner Music Group CEO and ex-CEO of his family-controlled Seagram Co. Ltd), Richard Zannino (CEO of pre-News Corp. owned Dow Jones & Co.) and Alan Spoon (ex-COO of Washington Post. Co.)
Diller, who scored an invite to Chelsea’s “royal wedding,” does control more than 35 percent of the voting shares of IAC. The New York-based company, however, isn’t exactly a local mom-&-pop operation. IAC’s hodge-podge of websites and Newsweek/Daily Beast mash-up earned $42.4M on $485.4M revenues during its most recent quarter.
One wonders what Barry was thinking when he reached out to Chelsea. Was he intrigued by Chelsea's decision last week to launch a Facebook page, a move that put her in the fast-paced social media scene?
On second thought, why would Chelsea want the corporate board gig? She is more cut out for a life of public service.