By Geoff Colvin and Ryan Derousseau
February 1, 2017

Today’s theme is the breathtaking, exhilarating audacity of our most fearless entrepreneurs – in the news of the past 24 hours.

-Apple yesterday reported the third-highest quarterly profit ever earned by a non-government-sponsored company. The first- and second-highest quarterly profits were also reported by – guess who – Apple. All those quarterly profit figures were around $18 billion, and all were driven overwhelmingly by the iPhone. Recall that when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ridiculed it, yet it turned out to be arguably the most transformative IT device of the past decade. Only in the past year have sales slowed down, and that’s largely because the market is nearly saturated. Now we’ll see if Jobs’s chosen successor, Tim Cook, can produce another such blockbuster, though it’s hard to imagine what it might be. (Regarding those profit records: Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored entity, reported a higher quarterly profit in 2013 because of a bizarre accounting adjustment; as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t count.)

-Amazon will build its first air cargo hub, suggesting it intends to enter yet another new business. The company said last year it would lease 40 cargo planes, and it has a network of 4,000 semi trailers, but building a hub at a cost of $1.5 billion is a far bigger step. The long-term plan is to deliver not just its own packages but also those of consumers and other companies, says the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. The hub will be in northern Kentucky, a prime location logistically, which is why Amazon already has 11 fulfillment centers in the area. Founder Jeff Bezos’s ambition seems entirely unconstrained, and we’d be foolish to think he has stopped expanding Amazon; foolish also to think we can imagine what he’ll do next.

Elon Musk has actually started digging his tunnel. After hinting at this seemingly crazed plan in a series of tweets, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX started digging last weekend at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Turns out he is not, for the moment, digging a tunnel to Los Angeles airport, as he has said he’d like to, but merely burrowing under Crenshaw Boulevard to SpaceX’s employee parking facility on the other side. His larger strategy is “to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by, I think, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent,” he said Sunday. “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.” As for how this will all turn out, who knows? But how can you not love it?

This is entrepreneurialism at its greatest, in one day’s news. The Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Fords of a century ago had nothing on today’s generation. Let’s celebrate their stories and do all we can to keep this spirit strong.


The new Fortune Unfiltered podcast features Scott O’Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers professional basketball team, the New Jersey Devils professional hockey team, and the Prudential Center arena in Newark, New Jersey. Listen to the full episode to hear about his passion for sports, the importance of having a vision, and how he makes time to coach his daughter’s basketball team.

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