Walmart, a ruthless retailer known for abusing employees and pulverizing local businesses, just installed Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom onto its board of directors. And why the hell not? Walmart is desperate for some Silicon Valley magic to rub off on its burdened brand.
Wal-Mart has been shoring up its e-commerce operations, aiming to ward off competition from Amazon.com Inc. and squeeze more growth from the Internet. It redesigned its website last month to be more compatible with tablets and mobile devices and said it was modernizing the technology used to run its search engine and recommendation tools.
"Wal-Mart is investing in e-commerce capabilities through talent, technology and fulfillment," Chairman Rob Walton said in the statement. "Kevin's passion and deep knowledge of social media align with our focus to engage customers through our digital and physical channels."
Saying a kid who made an app for filtering pictures of dogs and street art is ready to help lead the world's biggest retailer is like saying the co-founder of WhatsApp is qualified to head a multinational telecommunications giant. But when you have to spin slave labor in the age of social media, it helps to have the man who runs social networks on your side.