NEW YORK – Today the Web, tomorrow . . . Hollywood?
After conquering Silicon Valley and Wall Street, Internet phenomenon Google (GOOG) has appointed a veteran movie executive to its board of directors — a sign the company may now be eyeing Tinseltown.
Ann Mather, 45, a former executive at Walt Disney (DIS) and Pixar (PIXR), becomes the first Google board member to come from the entertainment world. Mather, who was Pixar's chief financial officer from 1999 to 2004, will chair Google's audit committee.
Mather's appointment is a "potential harbinger" of things to come, as the major entertainment and Internet companies warily begin to embrace each other, said UBS Internet analyst Benjamin Schachter.
"Mather's appointment gives Google's board a media perspective that it currently lacks," said Schachter. "This is the first person on the board without a purely technological or academic background."
Terry Semel, Yahoo's chairman, was a movie mogul who once headed Warner Bros.
Mather's experience in the movie business could help Google navigate a media landscape in which technology and content are becoming increasingly interdependent, Schachter said.
In addition, Mather's reputation for integrity makes her a good choice to head the audit committee, as does her experience in finance and accounting.
"I trust Ann completely," said one industry insider who worked with Mather for years before she left Pixar. "I never felt like I was getting spun. She's a morally and ethically upstanding person."
While Mather was at Pixar, she served as "the prime contact" with Disney on distribution issues as part of the two companies' co-production agreement, according to Google.
Prior to joining Pixar, Mather was the CFO at Village Roadshow Pictures and held several executive positions at Disney.