Twitter names ex Google CFO Pichette as chair, Kordestani to stay on

Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Munsif Vengattil
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed logo for Twitter is seen in this picture illustration made in Zenica

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Munsif Vengattil

(Reuters) - Twitter Inc <TWTR.O> on Tuesday appointed Patrick Pichette, a former chief financial officer at Google, as the social network's board chairman, marking the first time in Twitter's history that an outsider will preside over the group.

Pichette, who had been Twitter's lead independent director since the end of 2018, will replace Omid Kordestani in leading the directors as chairman. Kordestani supervised the board and had more day to day involvement with the company as executive chairman for nearly five years.

Kordestani will stay on as a director, serving on the 11-member board alongside three new directors.

The move comes three months after Elliott Management, the $40 billion hedge fund, had sought to oust CEO Jack Dorsey, pushed for improved corporate governance and wanted to see a higher share price. The two sides reached an agreement in early March that let Dorsey stay, for now, and handed board seats to Elliott among others.

Investors have been increasingly pushing for outsiders to preside over boards.

Pichette is expected to bring greater scrutiny of management and a stronger focus on financial matters to the company. Twitter's stock price closed at $32.26 on Tuesday, down 12.5% in the last 52 weeks.

Jesse Cohn, who lad Elliott's campaign, Egon Durban, Silver Lake's co-chief executive, and artificial intelligence expert Fei-Fei Lei joined the board as part of the deal.

Social media platforms have been under intense scrutiny lately over how they police the spread of false information, and Twitter and Dorsey made headlines by taking on President Donald Trump, Twitter's most famous user.

Trump, who accuses social media firms of bias against conservatives, without evidence, stepped up attacks on Twitter after it put fact-checking labels on Trump tweets.

Trump signed an executive order threatening Silicon Valley social media firms with new free speech regulations.


(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Devika Syamnath)