Peter Thiel was re elected as a member of Facebook’s board today at the annual shareholder meeting.
Questions over whether Thiel should remain on Facebook’s board came up after Thiel successfully bankrolled the Hulk Hogan case to bankrupt Gawker Media. Facebook is dealing with its own media relations problems over allegations that it suppresses conservative news stories (and negative stories about Facebook) in the trending news section.
Zuckerberg opened his address to shareholders with the statement that Facebook’s mission “is to give people the power to share and make the world open and connected.” Thiel was one of Facebook’s first biggest investors, and is still one of the largest shareholders despite selling off most of his position in 2012.
Thiel wasn’t at the shareholder meeting to defend himself even if anything did come up, but he expressed his support for Mark Zuckerberg last week at an award meeting for German media company Axel Springer, TechCrunch reports.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said at Recode’s Code Conference in May that Thiel would stay on the board. Thiel was acting independently, not as a Facebook board member, when he helped send Gawker to its grave (and when he publicly supported Donald Trump). By that logic, there’s no reason to vote him off the board, Sandberg’s argument goes. In April, news came out that Facebook employees wanted to ask Zuckberberg if they should work to thwart the Trump campaign. In May, Trump was forced to invite conservatives to Facebook headquarters after a report came out that alleged Facebook news editors suppressed conservative stories.
Voting in new board members is something all shareholders can take part in, but Zuckerberg has 60 percent of the shares, so it was up to him whether or not Thiel continued on at Facebook. After today, it is clear that Zuckerberg stands by Thiel, regardless of what he does on his own time with his own money.