In a less than flattering spotlight, Forbes contributing writer Eric Jackson on Monday reviewed the “governance” aspects of Patti Hart’s leadership both as a prominent member of the board of directors at Yahoo Inc. and more recently as CEO of International Game Technology (IGT).
“In case you forgot,” wrote Jackson, “Patti was at ground zero of Yahoo’s board when it was affectionately known to many – including me – as America’s worst corporate board.”
The column focused on the proxy fight created by investor Jason Ader and former IGT board chairman, Chuck Mathewson, who are seeking three seats on IGT’s board of directors when shareholders meet on March 5 for their annual meeting.
The battle turned nasty when Hart and IGT Chairman Phil Satre sent letters to shareholders criticizing Mathewson’s tenure for allegedly utilizing his position for personal gain. The dissidents responded by charging that the allegations were an attempt to shift the discussion away from the company’s alleged poor performance under Hart.
Jackson, on Monday, faulted Hart for her involvement in the hiring of former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, whose tenure lasted about five months before he was replaced by Marissa Mayer following Hart’s departure from the company.
The writer also took note of a story Sunday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that called attention to IGT’s purchase of the San Francisco-based BringIt for $10 million. Shareholders were not immediately advised of the purchase, nor were they told that BringIt was represented by Pagemill Partners, a small investment bank in which Hart’s husband was the managing director.
Hart explained she recused herself when the board evaluated the BringIt purchase and that her husband had recused himself when the Pagemill Partners became involved in the deal.
Reportedly, the company took the position that the $10 million buyout was too small to note since it followed on the heels of the company’s acquisition of DoubleDown for $500 million.
Ader, according to Jackson, has accused Hart of packing the IGT board of directors with former colleagues from her past affiliations, whom she has described as “independent” directors.
Jackson concluded his piece with the comment: “In my view, IGT shareholders deserve Ader’s nominees on this board to start more strongly holding Patti Hart’s feet to the fire and finally get IGT heading in the right direction.”
Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.
Contact Ray at [email protected].