Jack Dorsey, Sheryl Sandberg to exit Walt Disney board

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The Walt Disney Company yesterday said it would not renew the board seats of Twitter’s CEO and Facebook’s COO due to potential conflicts of interest.

In its annual proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Disney said Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg would not be renominated to serve on its board.

“Given our evolving business and the businesses Ms Sandberg and Mr Dorsey are in, it has become increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to Board matters, and they are not standing for re-election,” Disney said in a statement.

In 2017 Twitter signed a deal for a 30-minute show with NFL. Under the deal NFL would run a show on the social media platform five days a week during football season. The live digital show would be hosted by NFL Network talent and cover breaking news, game highlights and fantasy projections.

In August Facebook announced the launch of a new section called Watch, which would take viewers beyond the News Feed with appointment viewing. It has also lent financial support to a number of big-budget reality and dating shows set to debut when Watch eventually goes national.

Other directors who would not stand for re-election are Orin Smith, the 75-year-old lead independent director, and Robert Matschullat, 70, because of term and age limits for board members.

The changes would leave the Disney board with one fewer director than last year as it pushes its proposed $52.4-billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox Inc. Also, with the consolidation in the  entertainment industry and as Silicon Valley and Hollywood move closer, Disney’s board has at times found itself having to deal with conflicts of interest.

Two years ago Disney had made acquisition moves for Twitter, Dorsey’s company and Twitter and Facebook had also bid for and won the rights to stream live sporting events, a bedrock business for Disney and its ESPN network.

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