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CEO Daily: Tuesday, July 28

July 28, 2015, 10:55 AM UTC

Who are the world’s largest private sector employers? Fortune’s Claire Zillman reports this morning on the big seven. Not surprisingly, four are in China. The other three are Walmart (1.6 million employees), Hon Hai of Taiwan (1.1 million) and Volkswagen (0.6 million) Altogether, the companies on Fortune’s Global 500 list employ 65 million people – a total roughly equal the population of Thailand, but still less than 1% of the world’s population.


That 1% number may seem small, given that I reported last week that Global 500 companies have revenues equal to 40% of world GDP. But the revenue/GDP comparison is misleading, as several readers have reminded me. If Walmart sells an Apple product made by Hon Hai, the prices charged by all three companies get added up in total revenues, while only the value added by each goes into GDP. Also missing in the employment data, but encompassed by trevenue data, is all the work done by smaller suppliers that provide parts and services to the Global 500. Which is a reminder of the saying attributed to economist Aaron Levenstein: Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is interesting, but what they hide is vital.


Separately, we are approaching the deadline for companies to apply to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, done in conjunction with the Great Place to Work Institute. This has become our most popular annual list, heavily used by job seekers and widely shared on social networks. Moreover, companies that regularly apply tell us the workplace audit has great value, even if they don’t end up making the list. (I plan to put the new Time Inc. through the paces.)


Start the process at Great Place to Work’s website. Also, shoot me an email if you are applying for the first time. Deadline is Friday, July 31st for the 2016 list, which will be published in March.


Enjoy the day.


Alan Murray

Top News

GM to jointly develop Chinese cars

General Motors will invest $5 billion over the next several years to develop a new line of Chevrolet vehicles with its Chinese partner, stated-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, in a bid to tap emerging markets. Reuters argues the initiative is part of CEO Mary Barra's strategy of "merging with itself" by consolidating fragmented vehicle and engine programs, rather than consider a possible merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Reuters

BP books massive $5.8 billion loss

BP booked a huge second quarter loss, due to a $9.8 billion charge to settle the remaining U.S. government claims for the Deepwater Horizon disaster and as falling oil prices hurt the company's bottom line. More gloom is ahead as BP warned refining margins are expected to shrink in the third quarter, and the spot crude price has tumbled in recent weeks as world commodity markets have been shaken by concerns about an economic slowdown in China. Fortune

P&G expected to name new CEO

Procter & Gamble will soon announce company veteran David Taylor will become the consumer products giant's next chief executive, allowing A.G. Lafley – who was brought back two years ago to pull P&G out of a slump – to remain as chairman. But P&G, which has cut jobs and divested billions of dollars of the company's business, is still facing muted sales growth and a sluggish share price. Those are woes Taylor, who started his career at P&G in 1980, will have to fix. WSJ (subscription required)

Visa invests in PayPal rival

Visa will soon announce it has made an investment in Stripe, a startup that helps businesses accept nearly all forms of digital payments online and competes with PayPal's Braintree arm. With the latest funding with Visa, Stripe is now valued at $5 billion, up from $3.5 billion seven months earlier. Stripe is positioning itself to be well entrenched in the world of mobile payments: it has already inked partnership deals with American Express, Alibaba's Alipay, and is a preferred partner for Apple Pay. Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

Internet of things lures big spenders

Twenty-six firms plan to spend $1 billion or more each on Internet of things initiatives this year, according to a research report, but we found it interesting that Tata Consultancy Services also weighed in on what companies have generated the most revenue from their investments in connected technology. Tata found early Internet of Things leaders were more likely to digitally reimagine their businesses and produce substantial value for customers – not just value for themselves. Fortune

Airbnb plans Africa expansion

Airbnb is taking some steps to enter the hospitality market in Africa, including plans in the coming weeks to roll out its "host guarantee" that will reimburse hosts if a guest damages their homes. Even without Airbnb's physical presence on the continent, word of mouth usage has led to a spike in interest in South Africa, where some 9,400 homes are up for rent. It remains to be seen how well received Airbnb will be received by local governments, as it and Uber have both faced pushback from regulators in major Western cities. Bloomberg

China stock slump costing U.S. investors

The 144 China-based stocks with primary listings on major U.S. exchanges have erased nearly $40 billion in paper wealth since the Shanghai Composite index peaked on June 12, further highlighting the global reach of the woes in China. Stock losers include Alibaba, which has been the biggest destroyer of U.S. investor wealth, and And even if investors don't hold those individual stocks, they may be exposed through China-focused and emerging market ETFs. USA Today

Why Converse revamped Chuck Taylor

This is a key stat to epitomize how strongly a brand can turnaround: Chuck Taylor shoes now sell at a rate of two pairs per second of every day. As a reminder, Converse had landed in bankruptcy in the 1990s, only to be saved when it was bought by Nike in 2003. Sales are strong today, so why would Converse want to mess with success and debut a new version of the classic Chuck Taylor – the first revamp in 98 years? "Even at the height of your game, you always need to be asking and answering the questions–what can we do better, how do we get there faster, how do we get bigger?" said Converse CEO Jim Calhoun. Fortune