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CEO Daily: Friday, October 23

In yesterday’s post on the 21st Century Corporation (read Geoff Colvin’s excellent essay here), we noted that capital is becoming less important to the modern company. Cloud computing is a huge driver of that trend. It converts technology CAPEX into OPEX, making it relatively easy for companies to scale up or slow down their tech efforts.

 

It also makes big money for the companies operating the giant server farms housing the cloud. Amazon announced quarterly earnings results yesterday that blew the doors off most analysts’ estimates, powered by a near doubling of sales by its Amazon Web Services platform from a year earlier. Microsoft also reported a strong sales gain on its Azure cloud platform, and CEO Satya Nadella predicted cloud sales would grow from $8 billion to $20 billion in the next three years. Alphabet (formerly Google) also reported a bang up quarter.

 

Compare that to the dismal messages coming out of companies still relying on captive hardware – IBM, HP, Dell, EMC – and you get a picture of how rapidly the world of business is changing. Our post yesterday pointed out that tech disruptions have a tendency “to destroy more value for incumbents than they create” for the disrupters. That’s what’s playing out here — although we think the move to the cloud ultimately paves the way for a vast increase in computing by companies, as they connect everything and collect and analyze ever more data.

 

Meanwhile, this morning we are posting a story from our November magazine that reveals one dark side of the tech revolution – a potential health crisis in Silicon Valley. Turns out hunching over your computer screen 18 hours a day, drinking red bull and eating sugar snacks, isn’t particularly good for your health. Remember the Freshman 15? In the valley, it’s the Facebook 15 and the Twitter 20.

 

Enjoy the day, eat well, get up from your seat every once in a while, and read more below.

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

Top News

Dorsey gives back Twitter stock

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said he would donate a third of his ownership stake to the employee equity pool, a gift of 7 million shares that is worth about $200 million at current market rates. The move comes after a tough couple of weeks for Twitter, which recently announced it would cut about 8% of the company’s workforce. Fortune

Ryan declares bid for House speaker

Rep. Paul Ryan, the former vice president candidate for the Republican party’s 2012 ticket, has officially declared his bid for House speaker Thursday after he successfully pulled together the support he would need to get elected next week. His candidacy, WSJ reports, was made possible by a truce with hard-line Republicans about how he envisions the House will operate under his leadership. WSJ (subscription required)

Microsoft boosted by the cloud

Microsoft posted a better-than-expected quarterly revenue total that sent shares soaring in after-hours trading on Thursday, bolstered by strong demand for the company’s cloud products. The tech giant has shifted its focus on software and cloud services, a pivot that comes as demand slows for the Windows operating system. “Cloud continues to be the Rock of Gibraltar for Microsoft as this was a source of strength again in the quarter,” according to one industry analyst. Reuters

Google: Mobile is huge for us

Google’s parent company Alphabet released earnings on Thursday that sent shares soaring: a 13% increase in revenue with $4.7 billion in operating income. On a call with analysts, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said more than half of Google search queries now come from mobile, as he aims to change the narrative that the company’s search engine isn’t as strong on mobile. But when asked to disclose how much search revenue Google gets from mobile versus desktop, Pichai demurred, only saying mobile search “is as compelling, or even better, than desktop.” Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

Tax collectors go after Netflix, Airbnb

Popular startups including Airbnb and Uber, as well as more established companies like Netflix and even the Burning Man festival, have found themselves the target of new taxes that are seeking to raise funds for various cities and states. In June, for example, Chicago levied a 9% “amusement tax” that would cover Netflix and other streaming services to help make up for lost sales of DVDs and CDs. As Bloomberg explains, in some cases governments are trying new taxes because they are running low on funds. Other times, they are trying to react to new technology or social trends. Bloomberg

Ads sell out for live stream of NFL game

Yahoo’s webcast of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game this Sunday from London sold out advertising slots thanks to interest from more than 30 advertisers, suggesting the industry is excited about the opportunity to capitalize on the global audience that will watch the game. The live stream also represents a key test for the NFL, which is experimenting with both the appeal of the game globally as well as how it will do when distributed almost entirely digitally. One has to wonder if a more extensive streaming deal with Yahoo or another tech giant is possible down the road. New York Times (subscription required)

A startup’s unusual pregnancy perk

Every expectant woman at Utah-based Domo, a business management platform provider, receives $2,000 in gift cards that can be used to buy maternity clothes. Because Domo is a fairly new company, it says it can’t afford to provide parental benefits compared to those offered by companies like Netflix, which this summer unveiled an “unlimited” leave policy. The wardrobe perk is meant to sweeten the deal Domo offers new parents. Fortune