Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet had two simple pieces of advice for companies considering blockchain projects yesterday at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto:
1) “If you are a CEO and someone is coming to you with a blockchain project, beware. Blockchain is a technology, not an outcome. You need to start with a business problem.”
2) “Once you understand the blockchain, then the question is: should you be a first mover, or should you monitor and participate? For most companies, the right answer is going to be monitor and participate.”
Also at the Forum yesterday, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers took on the new USMCA trade agreement. “There’s no important difference between the new NAFTA and the old NAFTA,” he said. “What we have had is 14 months of drama to be in the same place we were before.” When I pressed him on improved access to the Canadian market for U.S. dairy products, he responded: “We are not talking about one percent of GDP. We are not talking about 1/10th of a percent of GDP. We are not talking about 1/100th of a percent of GDP. This is a big nothing.”
Separately, Fortune this afternoon will release its Future 50: a list of companies with the best outlook for long-term growth prospects, calculated with the help of our partners at BCG’s Henderson Institute. Last year’s Future 50 focused only on U.S. companies; this year’s list expanded the net worldwide. The result? I don’t want to totally spoil the surprise, but three of the top five are based in China. The five top forward-looking publicly-traded companies:
- Workday, U.S.
- Weibo, China
- ServiceNow, U.S.
- CTrip.com International, China
- VIPShopHoldings, China
And apologies for saying yesterday that Canada was the first country to fully legalize marijuana. Uruguay apparently beat them to it. Here’s what Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said about how he is going to celebrate the change.
Trump Goes Postal
President Trump intends to pull the U.S. out of the Universal Postal Union, a 144-year-old, U.N.-run international postal alliance. He argues that its favorable shipment rates for developing countries let China flood the U.S. with goods. By withdrawing from the UPU and its set rates, the U.S. would establish its own rates for American postal services that handle international shipments. The Hill
eBay Sues Amazon
eBay has sued Amazon for, it claims, illegally poaching sellers from its marketplace using eBay’s internal messaging system. The scheme has been going on for the last few years, eBay claimed in a suit filed in Santa Clara County, California—and in a cease-and-desist letter that preceded the suit. Amazon says it’s investigating the claims. Wall Street Journal
Novartis is to pay $2.1 billion for Endocyte, an American company that’s developing new treatments for prostate cancer. The purchase may give Novartis a big upcoming product launch, while boosting its work in the field of radiopharmaceuticals—essentially, radioactive drugs used to diagnose and target tumors. Fortune
Uber has raised $2 billion in a junk bond sale ahead of its planned IPO. The company reportedly sold $1.5 billion in eight-year notes with an 8% yield (it only planned to sell $1 billion), plus $500 million in five-year notes with a 7.5% yield in a private placement. The Financial Times‘s sources say Uber will IPO in early 2019 with a targeted valuation of $100 billion. FT
Around the Water Cooler
HSBC in China
HSBC has become the first British company to publicly express an interest in participating in the upcoming Shanghai-London trading link. This would see the bank become the first foreign firm to list shares in China, as the link would allow companies listed in each city to issue depositary receipts in the other. The idea is intended to better integrate China’s financial markets on the global stage while allowing it to maintain its capital controls. Bloomberg
British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the EU’s other national leaders last night, but didn’t say much that was new—apart from the fact that she is considering extending the Brexit transitional period that would see her country stick to EU rules for 21 months after the fateful day next March. Of course, there won’t be any transitional period without a deal, and right now there’s no indication that a deal will be struck. BBC
The Dubai-based ride-hailing service Careem has raised $200 million in fresh financing from existing investors, which include Daimler and Chinese counterpart Didi Chuxing. Careem, which apparently now has a valuation of around $2 billion, hopes to raise over $500 million to expand into deliveries, payments, and all the other things that a cut-and-thrust tech platform should be into these days. Reuters
Stressed out by the advent of 3D-printed guns? You shouldn’t be, according to Avi Reichental, the CEO of venture firm XpontentialWorks. Reichental writes for Fortune that, although new materials allow for better-performing plastic-printed guns these days, it’s still a lot easier and cheaper to just buy a regular gun. Fortune