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Board Member Overlap

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The CEO of Disney is on the board of Apple, whose CEO is on the board of Nike, which has a board member on Disney… which all got me thinking: how many powerful companies are connected via their board of directors?:


Are you surprised how well networked most of the boards of DowJones top 30 companies are… or surprised that not all 30 companies are connected? I find it fascinating that several people serve on the boards of not two, but THREE of the most powerful companies in the world. As a reminder:

  • A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a stock market index that shows how 30 large publicly owned companies based in the United States have traded during a standard trading session in the stock market.

Companies, represented by their logos, are connected by common board members (yellow circles). Members who serve on only one board are not shown. I also highlighted company CEOs and board member genders.

My first draft looked at all Fortune 100 companies, but that network diagram was so complex that it was difficult to gain any  insight beyond that the higher echelons of big business is incredibly well connected. Here’s a snapshot of what that approach  looked like:

Fortune 100 preview

Whether looking at all Fortune 100 or just the DowJones 30, this endeavor is only a quick infosketch. I think a complete data adventure might look back across history and also mix in other positions of power such as  major university boards and important government political appointees.

Data Provenance
Data is from Bloomberg research, accessed June 2015. You can see a list of board members for all 30 companies here.

Prior Art
I’m not the first to look at interlocking board members with a network diagram. Check out this 2010 blog post by Valdis Krebs for an earlier view José Azar’s 2012 thesis study of oligopolies.

Info We Trust is a data adventure exploring how to better humanize information. To learn more read the opening post here. The creator, RJ Andrews, is an engineer and proud Northeastern University and MIT graduate. Please reach out through facebook, twitter @infowetrust, or the contact page. Prints are available here.

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