The Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (SVNACD) sent an e-mail to members and friends last Friday notifying us they are changing their name to the Silicon Valley Directors’ Exchange. Here’s the body of the notice from the Board of Directors:
Our new name reflects our mission: we are a forum for education and conversation about current, relevant issues facing boards of directors of Silicon Valley companies. Your affiliation with the new Silicon Valley Directors’ Exchange is automatic (and free). The website of the Silicon Valley Directors’ Exchange (SVDX) is www.svdx.orgAs you know, our group was previously the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. We have resigned our direct affiliation with the NACD. Organizational independence enhances our ability to partner with a number of different independent thought leaders and organizations in the area of corporate governance. It also enhances our ability to provide a wider variety of programming.
If you are a dues-paying member of the NACD, your status with the NACD remains unchanged. We encourage you to continue to access the NACD through its website (www.nacdonline.org) and, at the chapter level, through the Northern California Chapter of the NACD.We’ve had record numbers of attendees at our recent events. We look forward to your continued engagement in conversations about both national trends and Silicon Valley issues in the future.
Later in the day, Ken Daly, President & CEO of NACD, sent the following to the leaders of NACD chapters:
I send this quick note your way in advance of my monthly letter to inform you that our NACD Silicon Valley chapter has made a decision to resign their affiliation with our national organization. We have been working with them over the years and this decision from them came today in a most amicable and respectful letter to our Board. All of us wish them success going forward.The former NACD Silicon Valley chapter’s board of directors announced this change to the NACD members in their area this morning. In that same announcement they encouraged our members to remain members of NACD and continue to access their benefits inclusive of the vibrant chapter system. Additionally, they provided the websites for both NACD and NACD Northern California as resources.Thank you for your continued leadership and support as we all move NACD forward together.
As Ken Daly mentions, the split is “amicable,” with SVDX encouraging its NACD members to continue paying their dues to NACD. Thankfully, SVDX has enough donations that it doesn’t need to collect dues. As someone who has been attending SVNACD, as well as other NACD events for years, I don’t expect to see much change.
Although announced last Friday, the break has probably been in the works for years, as NACD has tried to improve its branding by imposing some degree of uniformity over websites, forums and programs. Notice that most, if not all, other NACD chapters have websites with nacdonline.org as part of their URL. For example, the Washington, DC chapter is nacdonline.org/capital and the Northern California Chapter is northerncalifornia.nacdonline.org, These sites are taking on the same look and feel. SVNACD’s URL was svnacd.org and is now svdx.org. You’ll notice the site has its own look and feel.
The real break may have come when SVNACD began meeting at the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, which is a well-endowed joint initiative of Stanford Law School and the Graduate School of Business. Whereas many NACD chapters, if not most, limit attendance primarily to members and presenters, all SVDX meetings are now open to the public. Following is a note on the website of the Washington, DC Chapter:
Please note that in the interest of promoting a higher quality of formal and informal dialogue at our events, and in response to a number of comments from our members and sponsors addressing this issue, we have decided to implement a new policy regarding attendance at our meetings.
Beginning in 2010, we ask that you register for an event only if you are or were a director, corporate executive, or regulator directly involved with corporate governance matters.
Such policies may give members a sense that they can be candid, without fear of attribution, and may add to the feel of exclusivity. However, I believe meeting at Stanford has worked to SVDX’s advantage. They continue to attract corporate directors and potential candidates but have gained a growing number of faculty and students who bring a slightly more academic approach. SVDX is bridging the gap between theory, empirical research and practice. Plus, they are introducing future leaders to the duties and responsibilities of directors. Of course, the Rock Center also brings a multitude of other benefits. Take a quick look at their Category Directory, research programs, videos and other resources.
SVDX is unique, with its resource rich environment of world-class law firms, other providers, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, Stanford’s Rock Center and a thriving business hub where one-third of all venture capital in the United States is invested. On the other hand, something similar happened back in 1991, when several NACD members in San Diego formed the Corporate Directors Forum (CDF). They too cherished their independence, felt they were better positioned to do their own events and knew their own market better. CDF is now hosting one of the very best annual forums at the University of San Diego. See my recent coverage here and here.
NACD clearly has advantages when it comes to keeping in touch with Congress, the SEC and others in Washington, DC. They can also more easily track trends around the country and establish “best practices.” However, organizations like SVDX and CDF are more likely to experiment and be incubators for new ideas that address local specific needs. Thankfully, at least on the West Coast, we are rich in both types of organizations.
Although SVNACD has always had great venues, the facilities SVDX uses at Stanford are even better. I expect the auditorium will soon be filling up.