With the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the California lender’s board of directors are facing intense scrutiny.
The New York Post conducted a review, which highlighted several members of the 12-person board, and has received negative press for a focus on woke initiatives and diversity.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that one director, venture capitalist Kate Mitchell, has donated tens of thousands of dollars toward groups boosting Democrats, including those supporting Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
Mitchell made news for sharing how she prayed at a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan, over Thanksgiving after Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. “I prayed for me and us to get beyond our grieving and shock and to figure out how to engage and listen to what happened and come back together,” she said, according to CNBC.
Elizabeth “Busy” Burr, who became interim CEO of the Rite Aid Corporation in January, talked in 2021 about how her participation in an improv troupe taught her valuable lessons in life.
“I’ve learned a lot from doing improv and it’s influenced how I think about leadership,” she told Authority Magazine. “Improv is a creative art form — you create a story in real-time, in front of an audience — there’s no script so you’re figuring things out on your feet.”
Burr also shared her views on creating an “inclusive, representative, and equitable society,” as the publication put it, from the perch of being on a board of directors.
“I sit on a couple of public company boards and that’s one place to start, for Boards of Directors to hold management teams accountable for digging and understanding the way merit and promotion are handled in a company,” Burr said. “It’s not enough to just report the numbers, instead, we need to demand a deep look at company culture — what are the informal networks and behaviors that support the status quo. Discuss this at the board level and hold management teams accountable for real change.”
Garen Staglin got a mention in the New York Post report for owning a vineyard in Napa County, California, not far from where House Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her husband Paul Pelosi have a vineyard. FEC records show years of donations from Staglin to Democrats all over the country.
Yet another SVB board member, Mary J. Miller, is a former Obama administration Treasury Department official who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Baltimore mayor in 2020.
Miller faced calls to drop out of that race after a supportive political action committee released an email that said it was “targeting white voters” in a bid to pull support away from other candidates. Although Miller said her campaign had no involvement or prior knowledge of the email, she nevertheless apologized to Baltimoreans for the message.
CNBC reported that SVB collapsed on Friday after it struggled to raise nearly $2.3 billion in assets to cover customer deposit withdrawals and failed to find a buyer. The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly opened investigations that would include a look into executives’ share sales before U.S. regulators shut down the floundering bank and took control of its deposits.
SVB CEO Greg Becker, who is listed on the board of directors, sold millions of dollars in stock just days before the company’s failure and CFO Daniel Beck sold about one-third of his holdings for about $575,000, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Other people listed as members of SVB board include Chairwoman Kay Matthews; Thomas King, former CEO of investment banking at Barclays; Coursera CEO Jeffrey Maggioncalda; Richard Daniels, former executive vice president and chief information officer at Kaiser Permanente; and Eric Benhamou, chairman and CEO of Benhamou Global Ventures.
Among those who have taken shots at SVB’s board is “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary. On Sunday, he suggested the collapse could be pinned on the bank’s “negligent board of directors” and “idiot management.”
Matthews, King, Mitchell, Miller, and Benhamou have been named as part of a team to consider “strategic alternatives” for investment banking and fund manager units that are separate from the bank itself under the parent SVB Financial Group.