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Facebook board among America’s most powerful (really)

By Laurie Bennett

August 28, 2012 at 9:20am

Facebook has one of the most influential public corporate boards in the U.S.

Before you object with complaints about the inflated influence of founder Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire investor Peter Thiel, hear us out.

We’ve measured the extended influence of individual directors in business, nonprofits, government and other spheres, rather than just within the company itself.

Taken together, members of Facebook’s board comprise a power group rivaled by few other U.S. public companies.

In addition to Zuckerberg and Thiel, the board includes Netscape co-founder Marc L. Andreessen; Erskine B. Bowles, former president of the University of North Carolina and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; and Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post.

Facebook’s ranking underscores our method, for there’s no apparent reason other than his wealth and reach outside the company that Thiel should still be a director.

An early investor, he has sold most of his holdings in the last three months.

Compare his actions to those of Graham, who has pledged not to sell any Facebook shares as long as he’s on the board.

It’s probably high time that Graham and other heavy hitters flex some muscle.

We’re hardly the first to point out the offensiveness of Thiel’s continuing to serve. One of his biggest critics, CNBC’s Jim Cramer got even more worked up than usual.

In addition to Facebook, companies making our top 10 list include McDonald’s, IBM and Apple, even without Steve Jobs.

Using individual Muckety scores, we compiled average influence for directors of each of the Fortune 1000 companies. Because scoring differences were minimal among the top 10 companies, we’ve displayed them alphabetically.

COMPANY POWERFUL DIRECTORS
Alcoa Ratan N. Tata, Ernesto Zedillo, James W. Owens, Klaus Kleinfeld
Apple Albert A. Gore Jr., Robert A. Iger, Ronald D. Sugar
Berkshire Hathaway Warren E. Buffett, William H. Gates III, Ronald L. Olson
Boeing Kenneth M. Duberstein, Edward M. Liddy, Arthur D. Collins Jr.
Coca-Cola Muhtar Kent, Barry Diller, Richard M. Daley
Facebook Erskine B. Bowles, Peter A. Thiel, Marc L. Andreessen
Google L. John Doerr, Eric E. Schmidt, John L. Hennessy
IBM James W. Owens, Arthur D. Collins Jr., Patricia F. Russo
JPMorgan Chase & Co. James S. Crown, James Dimon, Ellen V. Futter
McDonald’s John W. Rogers Jr., Andrew J. McKenna Sr., Walter E. Massey
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