CEO Daily: Friday, August 14
A friend wrote recently to thank me for helping his career. Not having done a damn thing, as far as I could tell, to advance this fellow’s professional life, I was pleased to know he was referring to my insistence that he spruce up his profile on LinkedIn, whether or not he wanted to find a new job. As it turns out, a new job found him when a recruiter viewed his profile on LinkedIn.
That exceedingly pleasant note reminded me to check in with LinkedIn, whose CEO, Jeff Weiner, I profiled a year ago in Fortune. Weiner is a poster child for his own company’s product. He’s a master networker whose every career move has built carefully on his previous post.
Irrepressibly optimistic, Weiner is weathering something of a storm these days. LinkedIn’s stock price, already down 40% from its high a year ago, has seesawed as investors have bemoaned slowing growth. The company’s longtime product chief left last year and Weiner recruited himself as the replacement. The CEO has his work cut out for him. LinkedIn’s web site hasn’t changed much in years, and its mobile version has been slow to add features. (An accusation of stagnation produced a testy exchange last month at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen between an audience member and executive chairman Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder.)
I chatted by phone with Weiner for 23 minutes Thursday; he says more in that time than most executives do in an hour. He claims to be untroubled by the stock volatility, which he blames on several factors, including later-than-expected declines in LinkedIn’s ad sales, larger-than-usual planned shifts in LinkedIn’s sales accounts, and the unexpected negative effects of a strengthening dollar. “Wall Street determines the day-to-day price,” he said. “We deliver long-term value for members and customers. We have a very clear roadmap.”
Weiner said his stint as LinkedIn’s product chief is “indefinite,” and he’s in the process of rolling out a bevy of new features. For example, the company is testing a messaging product for its users to communicate with each other, having already cut back on emails that had become an annoyance. LinkedIn is investing heavily in search. It also plans to increasingly survey its own members in order to share data-driven insights with them.
Weiner is a big fan of LinkedIn’s nascent publishing platform, a sprawling mish-mash of user-generated career-oriented posts with a sprinkling of business-celebrity advice, none of which LinkedIn pays for. One prominent LinkedIn “Influencer” who hasn’t posted in months—since April, to be exact—is Weiner, formerly a prolific commentator on his various theories of management. “There was a list of things I wanted to say,” he says. “I got through the things that were top of mind for me.”
It’s safe to assume that shipping product takes precedence over opining about business. Here’s hoping some of the news of the day that follows is helpful to your career.
• Apple accelerates hiring of women
Apple has hired more than 11,000 women worldwide in the last year, a 65% increase from the year before, as the tech giant also steadily increased hiring of black and Hispanic employees. The more diverse hiring comes a year after Apple disclosed a larger proportion of its staff were male. Tech giants have been vocal about the lack of diversity of their staff. "Some people will read this page and see our progress," CEO Tim Cook said on a message on Apple's website. "Others will recognize how much farther we have to go. We see both." Fortune
• Tesla to launch stock sale
Tesla Motors has proposed to sell more than $640 million worth of shares in a new round of fundraising that suggests to some the cost of bringing expensive electric vehicles to market is more expensive than CEO Elon Musk may have initially thought. Tesla, WSJ notes, has already raised more than $4 billion since the beginning of 2013. One observer said stock sales have been an inexpensive way for Telsa to raise money. "It demonstrates the power of an expensive stock," said an S&P Capital IQ analyst. WSJ (subscription required)
• Did Coke just set a succession plan?
Coca-Cola has hinted at a possible successor to CEO Muhtar Kent, as the beverage giant tapped the head of the company's Europe group to be its president and chief operating officer. James Quincey had been running Coke's most profitable operating group since 2013 and he recently led negotiations for the proposed $31 billion merger of some of the largest Coke bottlers. Some say Muhtar will be free to focus more on longer-term strategies rather than day-to-day operations. Fortune
• Greek lawmakers approve bailout
The Greek parliament voted to approve the country's third financial rescue by foreign creditors in five years, paving the way for euro zone finance ministers to approve the aid package later on Friday. But Reuters points out that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing a widening rebellion within his leftist Syriza party. A third of deputies from his party voted against or abstained. Reuters
• Goldman buys GE's deposits
General Electric is selling Goldman Sachs $16 billion worth of deposits in a deal that was widely anticipated after GE earlier this year said it planned to sell off the bulk of banking operations – a unit known as GE Capital. GE is angling to simplify its business and focus more on the company's industrial operations, while Goldman has been boosting its deposits since it converted to a bank during the financial crisis. USA Today
Around the Water Cooler
• Etsy taps Irish tax haven
Brooklyn-based Etsy recently implemented a strategy to change how its Irish subsidiary is registered so the e-commerce marketplace no longer needs to publicly disclose basic financial information about that unit. It is a move that has been used by other firms, such as Google and LinkedIn, to help them conceal how profits are shifted to zero-tax locales like Bermuda. The changes could ultimately help lower tax bills but some observers say the main advantage of unlimited liability companies is nondisclosure. Bloomberg
• Audi preps for Tesla competitor
Audi on Thursday announced a deal to partner with LG Chem and Samsung SDI to develop a battery designed for an all-electric SUV with a range of more than 310 miles. Audi's new vehicle would directly compete with Tesla's upcoming Model X. The end goal by Audi is to make electric cars more attractive to customers, but also represented a move to strengthen the European auto industry's efforts to develop cars with battery-cell technology. Fortune
• Is Cuba ready for possible tourist boom?
An estimated 15% of Americans said they would go to Cuba as soon as they could if U.S. government restrictions were lifted. And the island nation is bracing for as many as 10 million American tourists per year, a sharp increase from the 700,000 visits last year. Observers say the nation isn't ready for that explosion of interest, especially because the country's infrastructure isn't in place for the increased traffic. Hotels need a major upgrade, and there just aren't enough good taxis and buses to meet demand, experts say. Fortune