Slack, the popular business communications platform, has added Square CFO Sarah Friar as its first independent board member. She will also become its first female director.
In an interview, while stressing diversity has been an important aim in expanding its board, Slack CEO and founder Stewart Butterfield noted that Friar's extensive background in enterprise and finance was the key reason for her selection.
She certainly has that resume. Friar is currently the CFO of payments company Square. In addition, some consider her a prime candidate for the CEO job if Jack Dorsey ever decided to only lead Twitter, where he is also CEO.
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Friar came to Square from Salesforce, where she held a top job in finance and strategy. Before that she worked at Goldman Sachs for a decade and was also an exec at McKinsey in London and South Africa. She has a masters in engineering from Oxford University and an MBA from Stanford University and is also on the board of New Relic.
"As we get larger and have more shareholders, we have obviously wanted to increase governance," said Butterfield in an interview. "While there has been a strong bias that our first independent director be a woman, Sarah's background in banking, research, enterprise software, international growth and expansion, operational management in high growth environments and strategic finance is what makes her an ideal person to guide Slack to the next level."
She will also be helpful if and when Slack goes public, although Butterfield discounted any sign of her appointment as a step in that direction this year. It will have to eventually, given it has had many funding rounds, raising about $540 million and is valued at about $4 billion. It has also had acquisition interest from giants like Microsoft, which have since launched services that compete with it.
Thus, Slack will need all the help it can get. Right now, like many tech startups, Slack has a tiny board made up only of Butterfield and three of his venture investors: Accel's Andrew Braccia, John O'Farrell of Andreessen Horowitz and Social + Capital's Mamoon Hammid.
So, getting a real operator is a good thing, all due respect to VCs aside. In a quote provided by Slack, Friar said: "Slack enthralled me from the beginning — I'm an avid user, and I think the company has a great opportunity to have global impact across businesses and consumers."
—By Kara Swisher, Re/code.net.
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