Despite their best efforts, Facebook's shareholders failed to replace CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the social media giant's chairman.
Fortune reported that the proposal was voted down at the company's annual shareholders meeting on Thursday (May 30) by an undisclosed margin. Those in favor of the proposal had wanted an independent chair to replace Zuckerberg after the company was hit with a slew of controversies surrounding its handling of user privacy, the site's role in the spread of disinformation and a lack of independent oversight.
While the result of the vote wasn't much of a surprise (after all, Zuckerberg controls most of the votes), Arjuna Capital’s Managing Partner Natasha Lamb put him on the spot by asking whether the CEO would be willing to step down as chairman, which he did not answer. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Facebook’s lead independent director, was asked if she would request an executive session about handing Zuckerberg’s chairman role to someone else.
“The answer is no,” she said. “The company and I, and the board of directors, are comfortable with the current operating arrangement, where Mark is chairman and CEO.”
With the vote over, Zuckerberg moved on to reveal that the company is working on a variety of projects that will utilize an artificial intelligence (AI)-voice assistant.
“I imagine there are going to be more products that we build where voice is going to be an important interface over the coming years,” Zuckerberg said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, according to CNBC. “We’re working on a lot of different things around this.”
Earlier this year, Facebook confirmed that it was building a voice assistant to rival Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Voice Assistant. Facebook already offers two Portal video chat devices that use Alexa, but it is the only major tech company that doesn’t have its own voice assistant.
“You can look at where the product roadmap is likely to go on this, and see why this would be a very useful and an important way where people are going to want to interact with more technology that way,” Zuckerberg said.