CEO Daily: Tuesday, June 9
We were underwhelmed by the overhyped Apple World Wide Development Conference yesterday (dubbed “dub-dub” by the cognoscenti)… as were Wall Street analysts. But I would call your attention to this piece about upgrades in Apple’s mobile phone operating system, iOS9, designed to make it more intelligent, and more aware of context.
“Intelligence everywhere” has been a buzz phrase since MicroStrategy used it in the last Internet boom. But mobile computing and improved data analytics are steadily moving us toward that long-hyped goal. My colleague Erin Griffith has an amusing and eye-opening story in our Fortune 500 issue about a new software service, Crystal, that helps you tailor email messages to the known preferences of the recipient, based on publicly available data. (It informed her that I preferred a formal grammatical structure – not bad for an editor, is it?) It’s worth reading.
I’m sure neither Crystal nor the new Apple software are as good as advertised, and will continue to commit howlers for our amusement. But “intelligence “everywhere” to guide daily decision making, in business and in life, is fast becoming a reality.
In you have five spare minutes in the day, watch Bill Hader’s amusing video that opened the developer conference. More news below.
• Fiat courts allies for GM merger
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is reportedly reaching out to hedge funds and other potential allies to prod General Motors into a merger, though contacts with activists investors have yet to land an endorsement. Some analysts have characterized Marchionne's pitch as a tad desperate, citing Fiat Chrysler's weak operating margins. WSJ (subscription required
• HSBC to cut as many as 50,000 jobs
HSBC confirmed plans to shrink its global work force by thousands as Europe's largest bank looks to cut annual costs by about $5 billion to restore profit growth. About half of those cuts are tied to a reduced of full-time employees, with the balance being cut through the sale of HSBC's Turkey and Brazil operations. HSBC is trying to restore investor confidence after being battered by scandals and surging compliance costs. Bloomberg
• The worst performing IPO of 2015
Shares of vintage and craft online marketplace Etsy have fallen more than 50% from where they stood at the end of its first day of trading, making it the worst performing IPO in a year when IPOs haven't been performing well. Why aren't investors getting crafty? Well, the biggest problem is that expenses are growing even faster than sales. They were up 72% from the quarter a year ago. Fortune
• Syngenta rejects Monsanto bid
Swiss-based agricultural and chemical giant Syngenta has rejected a second takeover approach from American rival Monsanto, citing an "inadequate price" and regulatory risks. Monsanto over the weekend had sent the company another letter, essentially repeating a prior offer to buy the company for about $45 billion. New York Times (subscription required)
• P&G rivals aim to buy beauty brands
Two firms, Henkel & Co and Coty, have both made binding offers to buy separate parts of Procter & Gamble's beauty businesses worth up to a total of $12 billion, Reuters has reported, citing people familiar with the matter. And other firms have also reportedly submitted bids for P&G's cosmetics business or expressed some interest. If a deal were to occur, it would be part of P&G's previously announced plan to shed up to 100 brands. Reuters
Around the Water Cooler
• The coolest things at Apple WWDC
Apple's developers conference kicked off on Monday and the gadgets maker successfully grabbed tons of media attention with the announcement of a slew of new upgrades and features. Some of the noteworthy news included a long-awaited streaming service called Apple Music and new features for the company's desktop operating system. Fortune
• Elon Musk woos utilities
Tesla CEO and SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk went to a utility industry conference this week and in an onstage conversation asked the following question: "How can what Tesla is doing be most useful to the utility industry?" Tesla recently launched its grid battery business, which are being sold to be used by utilities, so it makes sense that Musk would want to sit in front of utility executives and actively court them. Fortune
• Jack Dorsey weighs in on Apple Pay
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and founder of Square, chatted with Fortune about Square's partnership with Apple to develop a new version of hardware that lets consumers use Apple Pay in stores with a Square point-of-sale system. Among the highlights? Dorsey touts a wireless card reader that plus into an Android or iPhone's audio jack that accepts chip card, as well as one that plugs into a phone's jack that swipes credit cards. Fortune