By Alan Murray and Tom Huddleston Jr.
January 11, 2018

Good morning.

Yesterday, I moderated a panel on global innovation at CES in Las Vegas, and the conversation impressed on me how thoroughly technology and public policy have become intertwined. Time was when technology companies wanted nothing to do with governments. But today, the biggest opportunities—think autonomous driving or health care data—as well as the biggest risks—think data privacy or cyber security—put the private sector and the public sector in an inescapable embrace.

Two years ago, I moderated the same panel at CES, and one of the participants was a relatively obscure French economic minister by the name of Emmanuel Macron. Today he is President of France, and some argue he has become, by default, the leader of the free world. On yesterday’s panel, Pascal Cagni, now head of Business France, talked about how Macron has changed the culture of his country by elevating the status of the entrepreneur and working to create policies—such as immigration rules that welcome entrepreneurs—to boost a startup culture. Likewise, Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands was equally impressive in describing measures his country has adopted to encourage entrepreneurship. IBM’s Bridget Karlin reminded the audience that many of the most impressive technological achievements—like sending a man to the moon or launching the Internet —came from government.

But the highlight of the day was the interview of Lyft President John Zimmer by Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which owns and produces CES. Zimmer is the antithesis of Uber founder Travis Kalanick, focused on serving customers and cooperating with local governments. “We’ve demonstrated a different approach,” he said, “which is collaboration with business and government.” After listening to him, I found myself downloading the Lyft app, to replace my reflexive reliance on Uber.

Incidentally, the 33-year-old Zimmer says he drives a Lyft car on New Year’s Eve, and several other times during the year, to stay in touch with the conditions of his drivers. That’s a worthy display of leadership.

Separately yesterday, the bitcoin bubble continued to inflate, with shares of the music centric cryptocurrency Vibe jumping 400 percent, while Warren Buffett joined Jamie Dimon in saying such cryptocurrencies “will come to a bad ending.”

And two seasoned observers of business and public policy—Robert Pozen and Bob Steel—urged U.S. businesses to invest their tax windfalls, and not squander them on share buybacks and dividends.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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