CEO Daily: Thursday, June 11
I wrote yesterday about Jack Ma’s unhappiness since taking Alibaba public. But something is amiss in private markets as well. Dan Primack spent last week visiting with VCs in Silicon Valley, and found growing concern about the slow pace at which venture firms are exiting their supposedly super-successful investments.
There are now more than 100 venture-backed firms with paper valuations of more than $1 billion. You would expect those sky-high valuations to lead to more IPOs – but they aren’t. Only seven VC-backed firms have gone public this year – the lowest rate since the financial crisis. In the meantime, big public companies are staying out of the Unicorn hunt, because they believe prices are too high. Which leads to the obvious question: if no one is buying, are these valuations real? Watch this space.
Separately, web site Glass Door released its list of the best CEOs as ranked by employees. Google’s Larry Page – perhaps the most idiosyncratic CEO in the U.S.– topped the list. (Mark Parker of Nike was second.) I’ll be interviewing Page at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco in November – our invitation-only CEO confab. If you are interested in more information about the event, check it out here, or shoot me an email.
And be sure to read the story below on Ana Botin’s early moves as CEO of Santander. She’ll be speaking next week at our Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in London. I’ll be the lone male in the audience.
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• Santander leader rethinks father's legacy
Ana Botín, executive chairman at Banco Santander, isn't allowing nostalgia to assert control of how she intends to run a giant bank with $1.5 trillion in assets. Botín has shaken up the banks executive team, including the replacement of the chief executive, and has also departed from her late father's legacy of large acquisitions. WSJ (subscription required)
• J. Crew slashes jobs
Apparel retailer J. Crew has cut 10% of the jobs at its New York headquarters and also named a new head of design for women's wear at its namesake brand, moves that come as the company struggles with sliding sales. Customers have been complaining recently about styling, quality and sizing issues, problems that even CEO Mickey Drexler himself has acknowledged. Fortune
• SeaWorld angers PETA (again)
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)lamented it wasn't able to confront SeaWorld during an annual meeting — saying its questions that were submitted using surfing champion Kelly Slater as its proxy wouldn't go through. SeaWorld hosted a somewhat unorthodox annual meeting — questions could only be submitted online. PETA, which owns stock in SeaWorld, has been known to buy shares in firms whose activities it disagrees with. Fortune
• Macy's to house tux rental shops
Department store retailer Macy's will soon open hundreds of Men's Wearhouse tux rental shops in its stores, setting up a partnership that is similar to the one it already operates with athletic footwear seller Finish Line. Why make such a move? Macy's stores generate a lot of traffic, so partners can greatly benefit from the retail space carved out especially for them. Fortune
• L.A. passes minimum wage hike
The Los Angeles City Council approved a 66% increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, becoming the largest city to push through a broad hike in wages and following similar moves in Seattle and San Francisco. The increase could directly impact big employers including McDonald's and Wal-Mart. The ordinance still must be signed in law by the city's mayor, who is expected to sign the ordinance by this weekend. USA Today
Around the Water Cooler
• Nike wins NBA apparel deal
The NBA signed an exclusive eight-year apparel deal with Nike, allowing the brand's signature swoosh to begin to appear on all uniforms in the 2017-2018 season. Nike is the successor to Adidas, which had previously struck an 11-year deal with the league back in 2006 but earlier this year said it would not seek to extend the contract. Nike also already has an apparel deal with the NFL. Time
• Jamie Dimon disses Elizabeth Warren
JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon took aim at U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Senate Banking Committee member who has gained influence in her party by openly challenging the size of large lenders. "I don't know if she fully understands the global banking system," Dimon said at a Chicago event. As recently as April, Warren disagreed. "The finance guys argue that if you're never in the club, you can't understand it, but I think they have it backward," she said. Bloomberg
• EPA's approach to plane emissions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, but notably stopped short of announcing any new standards. Instead, the agency has adopted a wait-and-see approach and could take cues from new international standards that should be finalized next year. FiveThirtyEight