Peter Munk, Founder and Chairman of Barrick Gold speaking at their Annual General Meeting .
David Cooper—Toronto Star via Getty Images
By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
December 21, 2018

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It’s time for reflection as the world heads for a shutdown—the good kind, where you rest, play, read, watch, listen, and otherwise enjoy the company of friends and family.

We all have plenty to contemplate. Instinct suggests we’re exiting an epoch of excess, a period where easy money trumped good ideas and prudent decision-making. In China, for example, a reckoning is imminent for what always looked like an insanely crowded bike-sharing market. As we mentioned yesterday, Alibaba-backed Ofo is having trouble honoring $200 million in rider deposit requests. Breakingviews suggests Ofo could go bankrupt, a sign of Chinese investment overkill.

Elsewhere, chickens have come home to roost for executives who chased fads, sometimes even if they were the right fads to chase. The Wall Street Journal reports that miner Barrick Gold is cutting back on the “digital reinvention” strategy of its executive chairman, ex-Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton. (The company suggests its moves are prudent rationalizing ahead of a major merger rather than capitulation.)

Digital transformation is tougher to do than say. Former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt liked to repeat the mantra that the industrial titan needed to be a “top 10 software company,” a noble-sounding goal that turned out to be a hollow mantra. GE’s head of digital is leaving as GE dumps digital assets. In media, it turns out that companies like Mic, BuzzFeed, Vice, and others could do great things when the venture-capital flowed but not so well when it was time to run a business.


I’ll spend the next two weeks reflecting on how I can do better in 2019. This is my last Data Sheet until January 8, when I’ll be in Las Vegas for the consumer-electronics trade show CES, though the newsletter will return to your in-boxes starting Jan. 2.

On behalf of Aaron and the entire Fortune editorial team, thank you for sharing your days with us over the past year. May you and yours have a joyous Christmas, a restful time off, and a healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year.

Adam Lashinsky


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