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Twitter Plans to Turn Over Its Board, Add More Diversity

Twitter's board won't look like Twitter's board for long.

The social communications company, which already looks drastically different from a leadership standpoint than it did just six months ago, is planning more changes to its board of directors, according to multiple sources. Now that it has completed its search for a permanent CEO, sources say that some of its long-tenured members plan to leave, and have announced as much internally. Still, it may not happen until next year, according to sources.

Peter Chernin
Getty Images for Malaria No More 2013
Peter Chernin

A change, though, means new blood and a new perspective for Twitter.

Among those who may be most likely to depart, as Re/code previously reported, are the three Peters: Benchmark VC Peter Fenton, investor Peter Currie and Peter Chernin, CEO of the Chernin Group. Fenton has been on Twitter's board since 2009; Currie joined in 2010.

Twitter divides its board into three staggered groups, with no more than three directors coming up for re-election in each cycle. It's designed that way to prevent possible hostile takeovers, as only a minority of the board comes up for re-election at any time.

Chernin's and Currie's terms expire in 2016 and Fenton's in 2017, according to the company's latest annual filing, but board directors can step down at any time, or can alert the company if they intend to leave once their term is up.

As part of the expected board change, CEO Jack Dorsey wants to diversify the board, according to sources, meaning the addition of more women and racially diverse board members. Before Omid Kordestani — who was born in Iran — was named Twitter's chairman early last month replacing former CEO Dick Costolo, the board consisted of seven white men and one white woman.

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Twitter has not yet settled on whom it is looking to recruit. One interesting option would be longtime Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who just joined the service last week.

The issue of diversity is an important one, the company has said, specifically for Dorsey. On Friday, human rights activist and one of the leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement DeRay McKesson visited company headquarters for a Q&A session with Dorsey. That took place just two days after a former employee took to Medium to criticize the company's diversity efforts, claiming "there was very little diversity in thought and almost no diversity in action" at the company.

Twitter has, at times, perpetuated a "bro culture," according to many insiders. It's the same type of culture that dogs tech environments across Silicon Valley, where young, male, and often times white employees are typically in the majority. In the wake of a badly formulated "frat-themed" party for an internal team at Twitter earlier this year, for example, Dorsey told employees that diversity would become a measurable goal. The next month, he laid out strategic hiring goals for bringing on more women and minorities.

That's a long way of saying that while diversity is still an issue at Twitter, it sounds like a priority to Dorsey, and changing up the board provides another opportunity to prove that. A more diverse board could help bring more diverse feedback to Twitter's top execs, who are often called on to present projects and updates at board meetings.

Suffice to say that diverse viewpoints on the board could trickle down to the rest of the company.