Facebook has appointed Kenneth Chenault, exiting American Express chief executive officer, to its board of directors.
In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the world’s biggest social media network, said he had been trying to recruit Chenault for years given his “unique expertise” in areas in which Facebook needs to improve and learn more. Zuckerberg pointed to customer service, direct commerce and building a trusted brand as areas in which Chenault has excelled, and praised the exec's “strong sense of social mission” and perspective — both of which come from running a large, public company for years.
“Adding someone to our board is one of the most important decisions our board makes,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post. “It's a long process that I take very seriously, since this is the group that ultimately governs Facebook. [Chenault] and I have had dinners discussing our mission and strategy for years, and he has already helped me think through some of the bigger issues I'm hoping we take on this year.”
Chenault's appointment to the board comes as Facebook is reportedly gearing up to enter the hardware market in its biggest push yet with Portal, a video chat device aimed at competing with Amazon’s Echo. Citing people familiar with the matter, Cheddar reported the device, which would mark the social media giant's first major entrance into the hardware market, is being billed as a way for friends and families to connect via video chat and social features rather than a voice-controlled speaker.
A formal announcement about the Portal device is planned for May.
Facebook is reportedly looking to market Portal at a price tag of $499, but could go lower to spark demand. The device will be voice-controlled and include a wide-angle lens that can recognize users’ faces and link them to their Facebook accounts. Portal will have the capability to access the internet, including services like Spotify and Netflix, and will reportedly be sold at pop-up stores and online.