Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Both Ellen Kullman and Marissa Mayer have good news for their respective activist investors, and President Obama discussed female empowerment in India. Read on to learn why Martin Luther King Jr.’s right-hand man is a fan of Selma director Ava DuVernay. Enjoy Wednesday!
• Mayer’s big spin. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced on Tuesday that the tech giant will be spinning off its $40 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The news is welcomed both by shareholders like activist investor Starboard Value, which has long argued that Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba is worth more than Yahoo itself. After the spin, Yahoo will have returned $9.7 billion to shareholders in proceeds from its Alibaba investment. Now, Mayer will be under more pressure than ever to deliver a turnaround and grow Yahoo’s core business again. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Only if women succeed. At the end of his trip to India, President Obama turned to the issue of women’s rights. “This is one of the most direct measures of whether a nation is going to develop effectively – how it treats its women. When a girl goes to school, it doesn’t just open up her young mind, it benefits all of us,” he said. Far fewer girls than boys go to school in India, and the country’s female labor participation rate is just 27%. Reuters
• Breaking ceilings… with eight kids. Helena Morrissey’s husband put it aptly when he said that his wife is “an anomaly, not a template.” Morrissey, the CEO of London-based Newton Investment Management, has become the face of of women’s advancement in business in Britain. She founded the 30% club, an organization working to increase the representation of women on boards. “I think I am meant to be flattered, but I am doing my own thing,” the mother of eight said in reference to people comparing her to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. NYTimes
• A win for Nelson Peltz? DuPont reported earnings that were lower than analyst expectations, a clear win for activist hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz, who has been pushing the chemical giant to be split up into three parts and also has suggested that shareholders would be better off without CEO Ellen Kullman. Fortune
• Soda pressure. Speaking of Nelson Peltz, the activist investor is also pressuring PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to develop a succession plan. After leading the soda giant for eight years, Nooyi has no clear successor. Peltz would like the company to find someone who will be more open to his plan of spinning off the Frito-Lay snack business from Pepsi’s soda business. NYPost
• ‘The face the United States gives to the world.’ Actress Jane Fonda said that gender inequality will continue to plague the U.S. as long as Hollywood continues to be run by white men. “Media is the face the United States gives to the world. If women are not part of that face, they’re not getting the whole picture. We’ve got to get more women running studios. Oh boy, we have to be brave, and determined,” she said. NYTimes
• Another Alibaba boon. Ant Credit, a company affiliated with Alibaba, announced an $80 million financing program for female entrepreneurs in China. Ant provides small online loans, many to women who sell products on Alibaba marketplaces, so the program could lead to an uptick in Alibaba’s already massive business. Tech Crunch
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Darlene Slaughter, a diversity expert, will become Chief Diversity Officer at the United Way.
MLK’s right-hand man: Director Ava DuVernay got Selma right
A slew of critics and historical figures have come forward in the past few weeks to dispute Selma director Ava DuVernay’s interpretation of history. Yet the man who was by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s side during that time thinks DuVernay got the story “just right.”
“The Lyndon Johnson folks felt that he was portrayed unfairly,” Ambassador Andrew Young, a strategist and negotiator for King during the Civil Rights movement, told Fortune. “I don’t think so. I thought he was portrayed very well. President Johnson was risking his political career. He had entire national and international issues on his agenda. Dr. King was risking his life. He thought every day could be his last day.”
Young says that criticism of Selma is rooted in “one big misunderstanding.” Last month, President Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs Joseph Califano wrote in the Washington Post that LBJ was more supportive of King’s goals with the voting rights marches than the film depicted. Citing a phone conversation that King and Johnson had in January 1965, Califano wrote that Johnson encouraged King to move ahead with the marches.
Although the tape of this conversation is publicly available, DuVernay declined to portray the phone call in her film. Why? Young says that DuVernay took her inspiration from a conversation between King and Johnson that occurred at the White House nearly a month before and a week after King accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Young, who was present for the conversation, says the meeting was late at night and all the official staff had already gone home. That didn’t bother King, says Young, because “we understood that Johnson was operating on a political agenda.”
To read more about what Ambassador Young thinks about Ava DuVernay, click here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Girls love football, too. Eleven-year-old football phenomenon Sam Gordon will be reporting live from the Super Bowl for AOL’s video series, MAKERS, using the hashtag #SuperBowlSam. Gordon garnered national attention after a highlight reel of her scoring touchdowns and tackling boys went viral. MAKERS
• Starting over. After co-founding Tinder in 2012, only to be ousted and allegedly sexually abused by her business partner, 25-year-old Whitney Wolfe is starting a new dating app called Bumble. “I know everyone wants to refute my roll at Tinder but the truth is the truth. I played my role at that company and I’m going to do it again in a different way. I don’t think anyone should be limited in continuing on in their career,” she said. Business Insider
• Brides says ‘I don’t,’ bills say ‘I do.’ Americans spend $55 billion on weddings annually, yet 13% of engagements don’t end with a ceremony. When weddings are cancelled, a brunt of the bills still have to be paid. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
How to make open source ‘welcoming and inspiring’ to women Fortune
Spider-Man’s healthy marriage The Atlantic
What kind of leader do you want to be? HBR
Gender gaps in workplace mentor programs LinkedIn
What the next Shonda Rhimes show could be about HuffPost
Beijing considers women-only subway cars WSJ
Bigger girls do better in comedy. I don't know why. Maybe because people find it easier to laugh. It's very hard to laugh at someone who's very attractive, I think. And normally those people don't have a great personality anyway.<em>Pitch Perfect's</em> Rebel Wilson tells <em>People.</em>