Chelsea Clinton appointed as IAC board member

Last week, 31-year-old Chelsea Clinton joined the board of internet giant IAC/InterActive Corp, the parent of and CitySearch. This has sparked a lot of interest from right-leaning op-ed columnists, bloggers and tweeters, who have been quick to throw up their collective hands in horror. Her appointment is easy prey to accusations of cosiness: Barry Diller, high-profile media mogul and IAC senior executive, is known to have supported both Bill and Hillary Clinton’s independent runs for the US presidency.

So is Chelsea Clinton’s selection yet another example of a board appointment made in an exclusive clubhouse or across a private dining table? On the other hand, could this move be described as rather smart?

After all, Chelsea Clinton has earned degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia and is currently reading for a doctorate at New York University. She has also worked at McKinsey Consulting and the investment firm Avenue Capital Group. By any standard, she is no intellectual slouch.

Clinton is not the only glitter in Barry Diller’s boardroom. She will join Michael Eisner, one-time chief executive of Walt Disney, and Richard Zannino, ex-chief executive of Dow Jones.

So, is it her brains IAC were drawn to or her Rolodex? I wonder if actually, IAC were after something that many have seen as a major weakness – namely Chelsea Clinton’s relative youth. Today’s companies would do well to look at increasing the range of perspectives on their boards by including younger non-executives. Disrupting traditional ways of thinking by incorporating not just a clever and well-connected woman on the board, but also somebody who is less than half the age of the average board director may just be Barry Diller’s best move yet.

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About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.