Lessons in leadership are all around us this morning as we watch leaders being tested and proven:
-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is being tested as all entrepreneurs must be if they want to enter the genuine major leagues. In the world’s largest ride-hailing market, China, he’s under withering attack by a heavily financed local challenger called Didi Kuaidi and its well connected CEO, Cheng Wei. Both companies are raising billions for the battle because the stakes could not be higher. Then on Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco threatened the company’s business model by allowing a lawsuit by Uber drivers—who claim they’re really employees, not contractors as Uber says—to be treated as a class action. This, too, may be a battle so important that Kalanick feels he must fight it to the bitter end. Oh, and around the world, news stories are identifying Uber drivers with criminal records as murderers and sex offenders, despite the company’s reassurance that it checks the backgrounds of all potential drivers.
These are the kind of challenges that define a leader, one way or the other. Kalanick is no kid—he’s 39, and Uber is his fourth startup—but nothing can prepare a person for the stresses and decisions he faces now. The world will now find out what he’s made of.
-German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a different test in Europe’s continuing migrant crisis. Germany is the favored destination of the many thousand Middle Easterners and North Africans swarming desperately from their homelands. That’s why Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, dealing with growing chaos at Budapest’s train station, yesterday called the crisis “a German problem” and said that if Merkel insists that “nobody can leave Hungary without registration, we will register them.” Merkel can’t duck behind anyone and is forced to act, but as a journalist at Der Spiegel told the New York Times, “I think the chancellor is not particularly happy about that role and would prefer others to collaborate or take the lead.”
In the same way, Merkel was forced reluctantly to lead Europe when Russia invaded Ukraine and again during the Greek economic crisis. Successful leaders are pro-active, not reactive. Can Merkel maintain her standing?
-In a far different setting, we see a leader proving herself. At the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Serena Williams is trying to become the first woman in 27 years to win all four major tournaments in one calendar year. Yesterday she came worryingly close to losing to Kiki Bertens before rallying and winning—and then, the detail that says it all, she immediately went to another court with her coach and practiced for 90 minutes. That’s how world-class great performers get so great. She could still lose, of course. But how much would you bet against her?
What We’re Reading Today
Obama secures votes for Iran deal
President Barack Obama has secured a veto-proof majority for the Iran nuclear deal as Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced her support. It could be the greatest foreign policy achievement in Obama’s tenure in the White House, but it comes with much ire from Republicans and prominent religious groups. Washington Post
DreamWorks Studios to part ways with Walt Disney
The film company founded by director Steven Spielberg is in talks to join Universal. The deal with Walt Disney ends in August 2016, and Spielberg has a strong negotiating position following the success of Jurassic World. The Hollywood Reporter
Tesla to unveil Model 3 in March
That according to a Tweet from CEO Elon Musk. The car, which will be geared to a broader market than Tesla’s other models, will retail for $35,000, but it won’t be available until 2017. Quartz
Building a Better Leader
CEO salaries only account for 10% of total pay
But, according to a new Mercer report, salaries actually grew very little over the past year for U.S. CEOs. Still, large company chief execs’ pay jumped 5% due to bonuses that increased 6% in total. Fortune
Twitter CEO search heats up
The social network did not have a succession plan in place after former CEO Dick Costolo stepped down, and investors are getting restless. Cisco Systems’ Padmasree Warrior and CBS Interactive Inc.’s Jim Lanzone have reportedly been mentioned as candidates. Bloomberg
Why wages have stagnated
We have a productivity problem. Since 1973, median hourly compensation of workers grew 8.7% while productivity increased 72.2%, according to new research. From 1948 to 1972, productivity and hourly compensation grew in lock-step. EPI
Do you have nomphobia?
It’s a fear of separation from your smartphone. Iowa State University researchers developed a questionnaire to help you know if you suffer anxiety when you forget your phone. Men's Fitness
China displays its military presence
While President Obama visits Alaska, five Chinese naval ships were spotted in the nearby Bering Sea. The ships were in international waters, but it was the first time they’ve been seen in the area. The ship sighting coincided with a military parade in Beijing to commemorate the end of World War II and show off anti-ship missiles and tanks. It’s a flexing of military muscle by President Xi Jinping, a concerning move considering the country’s recent market troubles. The Guardian
Marissa Mayer and Mark Zuckerberg have it under control
Is it time to give the Yahoo and Facebook CEO a break over how they raise their children, particularly when it comes to maternity and paternity leave? Maybe, as long as they make it clear their employees can also make their own decisions. Fortune
Army Ranger School now open to all
All qualifying women will be able to attend. It’s a milestone in the lifting of regulations against women serving on the front lines. USA Today
Up or Out
Net-a-Porter founder and executive chairman Natalie Massenet resigned from her post at the fashion site in the run up to the company’s merger with Yoox. WSJ
British online fashion retailer ASOS’s founder and CEO Nick Robertson has stepped down. He will be replaced by COO Nick Beighton. CNBC
Former editor of The Sun and News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, who resigned in the wake of News Corp’s phone hacking scandal, will return to the media giant as head of its UK division starting Monday. Yahoo News
Michael Simon has stepped down as CEO of LogMeIn, the software company he founded in 2003. President William Wagner has been tapped to replace Simon. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
Tide turns against BofA CEO
Proxy advisor Glass Lewis recommended that shareholders reject CEO Brian Moynihan’s hold on the chairman title. Fortune
NFL’s only female coach, no longer
Jen Welter’s internship with the Arizona Cardinals has ended, and the team has not signed her for a full-time position, leaving zero women among the NFL’s coaching ranks. Fortune
Can big waste companies like Waste Management…
…save the recycling business? Recycling profits have been in free fall since 2011. Fortune
NASA taps startup for help with hoverboard technology…
…for satellite coordination. NASA may also explore earthbound purposes for Arx Pax’s technology. Fortune
“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn’t win.” — Urban Meyer, national championship winning coach for Ohio State University. College football begins its 2015 season today.
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|