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CEO Daily: Wednesday, October 14

If you missed last night’s spirited Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders played foil to Hillary Clinton, in a way that we think works to her advantage.


First, when debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked whether Sanders believes in capitalism, he responded:


“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little, by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well, not just a handful of billionaires.”


That teed up Hillary for her response:


“When I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families. And I don’t think we should confuse (that with) what we have to do every so often in America, which is save capitalism from itself.”


Second, when questioning turned to the lost emails on Clinton’s server, Sanders jumped in to defend his rival. “Enough of the emails,” he said. “Lets talk about the real issues facing America.” Clinton, beaming, thanked him, and shook his hand.


Separately, I spoke with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit in Washington yesterday about the transition from the “digital era” to the “cognitive era,” characterized by computer systems “that can understand, that can reason, that can learn.” You can see the five ways she thinks that will transform business models here.


More below.



Alan Murray

Top News

Whole Foods bets big on tech

Whole Foods Market is today announcing a partnership with business enterprise software company Infor, a move to build out the grocery store chain’s cloud-based platform to help with its merchandising and supply chain. Whole Foods is using technology as a way to battle growing competition from rivals like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. “The word on the street is everyone is selling the same food. Well, they ain’t,” says Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb. He says he wants to communicate the difference – and Whole Foods is partnering with technology to do it. Fortune

Intel bets on the cloud

Chip maker Intel reported flat sales for the latest quarter, largely because consumers are buying fewer new desktops and laptops. But the company’s data center business continues to grow, with that division’s sales climbing 12%. Intel executives explained that the growth was coming from a rise in cloud computing business, and Intel hopes that growing business will eventually offset declines elsewhere in the business. Fortune

SanDisk exploring a sale

Chipmaker SanDisk has reportedly hired a bank to explore a potential sale of the business, with Micron Technology and Western Digital listed as possible acquirers. The company is one of the largest makers of flash memory, a chip that’s used as storage in mobile devices, computers and data centers. It would also be the latest in a string of deals for the semiconductor sector, which has seen more mergers and acquisitions action than in any other year. The industry is facing higher costs and a smaller customer base, resulting in a need to merge. Bloomberg

GE sells finance assets to Wells Fargo

General Electric has agreed to sell more than $30 billion in commercial lending and leasing businesses to Wells Fargo as part of the conglomerate’s strategy to drastically reduce its financing business in favor of a narrower focus on industrial manufacturing. GE Capital accounted for 42% of the company’s profit last year, but down the road, it wants that business to contribute less than 10% of earnings. Reuters

SEC set to charge Mondelez

The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly preparing civil charges against snack-food giant Mondelez after a long-running investigation into payments made in India by the company’s Cadbury unit. While Mondelez is unlikely to face criminal bribery charges (because there is reportedly no evidence it occurred), prosecutors haven’t ruled out other charges, WSJ reports. The parties are also in settlement talks. WSJ (subscription required)

Around the Water Cooler

Playboy switches to PG-13 images

Playboy Magazine, a publication that built its reputation on centerfold spreads of naked women, has decided to stop publishing nude photos. Instead, the publication intends to switch to “PG-13” images, a move that takes effect when a redesign occurs next March. This strategy has already worked online, where Playboy nixed nudity on its website last summer and saw traffic soar to 16 million unique visitors per month. Fortune

Michelle Obama’s plea to business

First Lady Michelle Obama is asking the nation’s top women business leaders to support girls’ education across the globe, explaining how 62 million girls worldwide should be in school but aren’t because of economic and cultural barriers. “It’s our responsibility to address this crisis as women, business leaders, and citizens of this country and world,” Obama said at Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Obama added that every extra year of secondary school can boost their income by as much as 18%. Fortune

Megyn Kelly overestimated Donald Trump

Fox News host Megyn Kelly took heat from Donald Trump back in August, after she asked pointed questions about the GOP presidential candidate’s disparaging comments about women during the party’s first presidential debate. Reflecting on the personal attacks that were later tossed her way, Kelly said she learned “we may have overestimated his anger management skills.” Kelly said the question was responsible journalism, saying the Fox News moderators asked all of the candidates about potential weaknesses that could prevent them from winning the election. Fortune

Imagine: A 40-hour work week

Most Americans, especially New Yorkers, know that a 40-hour work week feels like a myth. But at some smaller firms, it is a requirement – not a suggestion. Leaders that advocate for a strict 40-hour week say it makes employes more efficient by forcing them to focus on work while at the office. It can also lure attractive job candidates who may be willing to take a cut in pay in exchange for limited hours. And while its been reported people are working longer, there isn’t a lot of conclusive evidence about how long – one survey WSJ cited said full-time work averages around 43.3 hours a week. WSJ (subscription required)

5 things to know today

China blues and a Wal-Mart investment update–5 things to know today. Today’s story can be found here.