How can you tell if your company is truly committed to the future? That’s one of the questions we wrestled with this week at the Fortune CEO Initiative, because companies that focus on short-term results are less likely to be adding value to society. “If you make a decision based on short-term investors,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told the group, “you are going to make a terrible decision.”
Fortune has worked with Martin Reeves at BCG’s Henderson Institute to answer that question, developing the methodology that drives our annual Future 50 list. But during a working group session Tuesday, EY CEO Mark Weinberger offered an alternate approach.
EY’s most valuable strategic resource, he said, is its people. (Every other CEO in the room concurred.) So if you are trying to measure your commitment to the future, why not start by asking your employees? Weinberger is planning an annual survey, conducted by an outside group, to keep track of employees’ engagement and focus on innovation. In a world where human capital matters most, that seems the right place to start.
Separately, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene spoke last night at the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in San Francisco. My colleague Pattie Sellers asked Greene how she planned to compete with the giant of the cloud business—Amazon. “This is a trillion dollar or more industry. It’s still pretty early for an industry with lots of headroom,” she said. “What Amazon has is a lot of developer mind share, because they were there first. But we have better technology, we have a better cloud, we have the largest network” as well as “better analytics and better machine learning.” So take that, Jeff Bezos!
More news below.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public-sector workers’ unions cannot collect fees from government workers if they are not members of those unions—even though those individuals stand to benefit from the collective-bargaining deals struck by the unions. Separately, the impending retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has long been the court’s swing vote on many issues, means President Trump will get to nominate a second pick for the court. Observers say this will tilt the court towards conservatism for a long time to come. Fox Business
Amazon has unveiled its long-awaited delivery service, which will see others bearing much of the risk. The company is inviting entrepreneurs to set up small delivery companies with Amazon-branded vehicles and uniforms, using Amazon technology and receiving discounts on vehicles leases and insurance. Amazon claims setup costs will be as low as $10,000. Amazon says the companies will be able to serve other customers. Fortune
Apple and Samsung
Apple and Samsung have settled their seven-year-long patent war on undisclosed terms. The move comes not long after a U.S. jury told Samsung to Pay Apple $539 million in damages over features copied from the iPhone. Samsung had originally been ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion, but the amount was reduced following appeals. BBC.
Disney and Fox
The Justice Department has cleared Disney’s purchase of Fox assets, on the condition that ESPN-owner Disney must sell off 22 regional sports networks that come as part of the deal. The approval came more quickly than expected, and it puts pressure on Comcast to urgently increase its counter-bid, as Fox’s board now knows it has a smooth ride ahead if it goes with Disney. Variety
Around the Water Cooler
Future of the EU
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the future of the European Union depends on its ability to find a diplomatic answer to the so-called migration crisis. Merkel’s own fate certainly relies on such a deal being struck, thanks to an anti-immigrant push from her Bavarian coalition partners ahead of regional elections. However, figures show that the crisis is more political than effective—migrant numbers in the EU are actually at relatively low levels these days. CNBC
Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have been hit with a $25 million bill for royalties. Former business partner Steven Lamar said Dre and Iovine violated a settlement over the credit for the idea of celebrity-endorsed headphones—the pair said Lamar should only get royalties for one model of the Beats headphones, but a jury decided Lamar should also get royalties for three more models. Hollywood Reporter
China On Territory
President Xi Jinping has warned U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis that China won’t give up an inch of the territory that it claims. The U.S. has recently complained about China deploying forces in the disputed South China Sea, and American lawmakers are keen on stronger ties with Taiwan, which China does not see as independent. Bloomberg
Elon Musk has become embroiled in a dispute with an artist over a picture of a car powered by, um, unicorn farts. Tom Edwards says Tesla and its CEO have been making unauthorized use of his picture, originally drawn for a mug but since featured in a Musk Christmas card and even an “Easter egg” in Tesla’s automotive operating system. Edwards wants to be paid. Musk says he should be grateful for the attention. Fortune