Facebook goes biotech for new board member

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has sought out a top Genentech alum for the social media giant's board of directors. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the ex-Genentech exec and University of California, San Francisco, chancellor, has taken a seat on the Facebook board and brought her extensive background in biotech to the table.

Facebook and other tech standouts have dipped into the Genentech well before and keep coming back, underscoring the common missions in biotech and tech to stay ahead of the pack and act smartly. Former Genentech CEO Art Levinson, of course, has been chairman of Apple ($APPL) and previously served on the board of Google ($GOOG). And ex-Genentech financial chief David Ebersman has been CFO of Facebook since 2009, leading the company through its historic IPO last year.

Genentech, a unit of Roche ($RHHBY), pioneered the biotech industry on many fronts. And Facebook has been doing the same in the world of social networking. Zuckerberg believes that Desmond-Hellmann, who was president of development at Genentech and serves as a director for Proctor & Gamble, has a fitting background to aid Facebook.

"Sue has a great track record of building and managing a diverse set of organizations, so her insights will be valuable as we continue to expand into new areas," stated Zuckerberg in a March 6 announcement. "Her experience shaping public policy and operating public companies fits well with the rest of the board and will make us an even stronger company."

Zuckerberg appears to have a growing appreciation for biotech minds. Last month he and tech billionaires reached into their deep pockets to support the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Xconomy reported, celebrating $33 million in awards to life sciences researchers at an event at UC San Francisco.

- here's the release
- see the Reuters article