Stretched Too Thin?

Walmart’s board of directors have faced a tough few months since news of the company’s Mexico bribery scandal broke, and attention turned back to the scandal for director Jim Breyer Friday in Texas.

In addition to his seat on Walmart’s board, Breyer is a venture capitalist at Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners and at his own firm, Breyer Capital. Plus, he sits on the boards of numerous companies including Facebook, BrightCove, the troubled News Corp, and computer maker Dell. Dell’s annual meeting was Friday morning in Round Rock, TX, where Breyer was haunted by an unflattering New York Times story from May.

In the story, Gretchen Morgenson points out that Breyer seems overscheduled to say the least. He sits on the boards of five publicly traded companies, most of which are facing what Morgenson described as “high profile problems,” like the scandal at Walmart. In fact, the weight of Breyer’s many commitments is apparent in his attendance record at Dell. Last year, he attended only 64% of the meetings.

It comes as no surprise, then, that at Dell’s shareholder meeting today Breyer “was criticized by one shareholder for an alleged lack of attention to Dell while serving on several other company boards,” as the Austin Business Journal reported. The same speaker referenced the New York Times article and pointed out that the Walmart Mexico bribery scandal will only put further demands on Breyer’s time.

These concerns have followed Walmart board members to other places as well. At the Goldman Sachs annual meeting in May, shareholders questioned Michele Burns’ role as a director at Goldman, given that she also serves on Walmart’s board and even sat on its audit committee at the time the scandal reportedly came to light internally.

Meanwhile, shareholder groups have filed a dozen lawsuits against current and former executives and board members on behalf of the company and its shareholders, including eleven derivative suits and one class-action lawsuit. Tough questions at Dell’s shareholder meeting are unlikely to be the end of the road in this saga for Jim Breyer.

What do you think?