Walmart adds Square executive to board in sign of tech ambitions

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Walmart Inc., pushing to challenge Inc. in e-commerce, has added more technology savvy to its board.

Sarah Friar, the finance chief at digital-payment company Square Inc., will become the 12th member of the retailer’s board, Walmart said on Thursday. The 45-year-old Irishwoman, who previously worked for Inc., joins fellow tech executives Marissa Mayer and Kevin Systrom.

Walmart has increasingly sought out Silicon Valley know-how to help expand its e-commerce business and counter the dominance of Amazon. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer created an incubator lab last year to seed startups in virtual reality and other emerging areas. It’s also forged alliances with heavyweights like Google, China’s Inc. and, most recently, Japan’s Rakuten Inc.

Friar’s employer, Square, started out offering smartphone credit-card readers for small businesses, such as food-truck vendors. It now increasingly handles transactions for larger businesses, along with offering tools to manage inventory.

Friar, who grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland and holds degrees from Oxford and Stanford, previously worked at Salesforce as senior vice president of finance and strategy. Prior to that, she was a software analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which she joined in 2000. Friar also serves on the boards of software company Slack and New Relic Inc., a provider of software-analytics products.

Bloomberg News
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