Serena Williams accepts a new challenge - in Silicon Valley


Tennis superstar Serena Williams announced Wednesday that she has joined the SurveyMonkey board of directors. Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Bill Veghte, Executive Chairman, Turbonomic, have stepped down from the board and will remain as advisors to the company moving forward.

Williams, who has won the most Grand Slam singles titles in history, has become more active in the tech and entrepreneurial worlds. Her most recent addition to that stellar performance was a win at the Australian Open.

Her connection to SurveyMonkey came through her friendship with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer and another member of SurveyMonkey's board.

SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie was looking to add more outside board members, especially from other industries. Lurie was previously an exec at GoPro.

'I feel like diversity is something I speak to, ' Williams said in an interview with the AP. A dedicated philanthropist, Serena also continues to work with the Serena Williams Fund, Williams Sister Fund, UNICEF and Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation. As a strategic partner, investor and innovator, Serena has propelled her influence off the court and into the business world. "The more I learned about this company, the more I felt their core values were close to mine". Combined with her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Williams can now play a significant role in the future of e-commerce and technology developments from her Silicon Valley boardroom position. "I am engaged to a techie, so I guess that makes me engaged to tech", she joked.

"I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters".

Adding Smith, Lurie added, means he gets a "mentor in world class CEO".

As for her reason for choosing to serve on the board of this company, Williams explains to TechCrunch, "Like SurveyMonkey, I'm driven to ask what's happening, and why".

In another blog post this morning, Sandberg also weighed in about the pair. According to Fortune, tech firms based in Silicon Valley have been accused of failing to deal with sexism and a lack of diversity.

For Lurie and SurveyMonkey, Williams brings her marketing knowledge and keen expertise for competition.