What do you do when you’re at the top of your field and have laid waste to pretty much all who’ve tried to challenge you? When you’ve found domestic bliss and have a nice family around you?
You find some new challenge to conquer.
And that’s just what Serena Williams is doing. Fortune reports that she’s signed up to be on the board of SurveyMonkey.
You might think that Williams would be a more natural board pick for a company like Nike or Chase, both of whom she has endorsement deals with, but in reality, the match is one that is long overdue.
Williams has always been in the company’s orbit — she’s friends with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO (and SurveyMonkey board member), and was friends with Sandberg’s late husband, Dave Goldberg, who was SurveyMonkey’s CEO before his death.
“Everything just came together really easily,” Williams said of her new position. She and current SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie met at Sandberg’s house last year, and became fast friends. As they brainstormed ways to work together, Lurie hit on the idea of inviting the tennis superstar to join his company’s board.
“Silicon Valley is super competitive and there’s no winner like Serena in any sport in any decade,” Lurie said.
And he’s right — Williams has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, and has pocked $77.6 million in prize money alone, which is more than double what her nearest female rival has earned.
Williams plans to use what she’s learned on the court as well as the business knowledge she’s gained running her own clothing line in the SurveyMonkey boardroom. Too, she’s picked up quite a bit of business acumen from her many years at Nike and J.P. Morgan. “I want to spread this knowledge,” she said.
Lurie told Fortune that Williams’ knowledge is sorely needed. SurveyMonkey, like Williams, has a stranglehold on its sector — it is the survey tool of choice for 99 percent of all Fortune 500 companies.
The firm is in need of new ideas to promote growth, and Lurie believes that a smart, capable champion from outside Silicon Valley’s insular bubble is just the person to help jump start growth.
Based on her track record, I think we can all agree that Lurie made a good pick. Congratulations to Serena on yet another win!