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Clara Shih Rides Social Media Savvy to Starbucks Board

Clara Shih knew that whole Facebook thing was going to be big.

She was a young marketing manager in 2007 when she grew intrigued by the social network’s potential to help businesses reach customers. In her spare time, she wrote a book on the topic that became a bestseller, and in 2010 she co-founded San Francisco-based Hearsay Social. The startup’s software helps big brands court consumers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Twitter.

Hearsay now boasts about 100 employees and clients in seven countries, and Shih’s been getting noticed. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has become her mentor. And when Sandberg rolled off the board of Starbucks, CEO Howard Schultz tapped Shih — then just 29 — to take her place.

Shih recently sat with this newspaper for an interview; here’s a transcript edited for clarity and length.

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