Genentech’s Levinson Still Straddles Apple, Google

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Now that Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt no longer serves on the board of Apple, an industry group is calling for Genentech chairman Arthur Levinson to choose sides.

    As of Sunday, both Levinson and Schmidt served on the boards of both Apple and Google. Now Levinson is the only one to straddle both boards, a position that Consumer Watchdog said also presents a conflict of interest.

    "It took Eric Schmidt far too long to realize that the two roles are incompatible; that’s not surprising considering the clubby atmosphere of Silicon Valley," said John M. Simpson, a Consumer Watchdog consumer advocate. "Nonetheless, we’re glad Schmidt finally did the right thing; we call on Levinson to act responsibly and choose one company or the other."

    The group noted that the FTC has been reportedly investigating the two companies for sharing the two directors.

    Levinson declined to comment, a Genentech representative said.

    Apple’s board consists of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit; Millard Drexler, chairman and chief executive of J. Crew; former Vice President Al Gore; CEO Steve Jobs; Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products; Levinson, and Jerry York, president, CEO, and chief executive of Harwinton Capital.

    Google’s board, meanwhile, includes co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Schmidt; John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Ram Shriram of venture capital firm Sherpalo; John Hennessy of Stanford University; Levinson; Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel; Shirley M. Tilghman of Princeton University; and Ann Mather, a former chief financial officer at Pixar, a company formerly run by Jobs but which Disney acquired in 2006. Jobs now has no formal ties to Pixar, but sits on Disney’s board.

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