The Republican party is melting down this morning, but we will stay focused on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, which we have just published here.
Nineteen years running, this has become our most popular annual franchise. Companies compete to get on it; people refer to it year round to plot careers. In a world where many of the most valuable products are made of bits that can be reproduced endlessly at no cost, and where central banks hand out money at near zero interest rates, human capital — talent — has become the great business differentiator. The battle for talent has become intense. And our annual list, compiled using an extensive methodology with the help of the Great Places to Work Institute, has become a widely accepted benchmark.
A few facts about this year’s list:
-Google ranks number one, for the seventh year in a row.
-But tech is by no means dominant. Of the dozen companies that have made the list for 19 years straight, only Cisco and SAS are tech companies. Others include Publix Super Markets (we spend a week inside the land of happy grocery baggers here); Four Seasons Hotels; and the popular political bogeyman, Goldman Sachs.
-Six of the companies on the list are employee-owned. Publix is the world’s largest employee-owned company.
-Together the 100 companies employ 1.6 million people in the U.S. and 2.5 million globally.
-At the moment, they have 100,876 job openings to fill. Get your resumés in now!
And while we are talking lists – we’ve begun researching Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list, which will be featured in the April edition of the magazine (read last year’s list here.) Readers of the CEO Daily are invited to make nominations. What business, political, nonprofit or cultural leader has impressed you most in the past year? Send me an email with your suggestions. We promise to give them all serious consideration.
More news below, including Mitt Romney’s plan to make a “major speech” this morning denouncing Donald Trump.
• Romney to give speech on 2016 race
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, will speak today at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum on the "state of the 2016 presidential race" in a speech that is not an endorsement or announcement. A source close to Romney says he is expected to praise Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are both trying to to be an alternative candidate to frontrunner New York businessman Donald Trump. Another source close to Romney told CNN that he is "going after Trump" in the speech. CNN
• GOP candidates to debate in Detroit
Just two days after Donald Trump won a bulk of the states that held Super Tuesday elections for the Republican nomination, the businessman and his adversaries will meet for the party's 11th presidential debate. Notably, it is also the third hosted by Fox News this primary season. Trump will be at center stage, likely fending off attacks from Rubio and Cruz, as well as questions from a moderating team that he has clashed with in the past. For TV viewers, it will be especially interesting to see the dynamic between Trump and Fox's Megyn Kelly. A question Kelly asked about Trump's treatment of women during an August debate angered Trump and he ended up skipping the second debate held by Fox after the network refused to remove her from the panel. New York Times (subscription required)
• Ex-Chesapeake Energy CEO dies in crash
Aubrey McClendon, an oil and gas entrepreneur whose outsized ambition and high tolerance for risk propelled him to become a leading figure in the American energy revolution, died in a single-car crash on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. McClendon was considered one of the most influential CEOs of his generation, revered by oilmen but despised by environmentalists for championing the extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that ushered in U.S. energy independence. His death came one day after the U.S. Department of Justice indicted him for allegedly violating antitrust laws by colluding to rig bids for oil and gas acreage while he was CEO of Chesapeake. Meanwhile, police are investigating why his 2013 Chevy Tahoe slammed into an overpass. Reuters
• Foreign policy experts condemn Trump
In a last-ditch effort to stop Trump's likely nomination as the Republican Party's candidate for president, a group of more than 50 conservative foreign policy experts have banded together in an open letter condemning him as unfit for the office. The short, bullet-pointed document hits Trump on issues ranging from his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his nonchalance about torture, being “fundamentally dishonest” and his anti-Muslim rhetoric. “[Trump’s] vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence,” the letter reads. The Washington Post
• DoJ grants immunity to Clinton staffer
The Justice Department has granted immunity to a former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Clinton's private email server as part of a criminal probe into the possible mishandling of classified information. The FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009, The Washington Post reports. FBI agents are likely to want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails. The Washington Post
Around the Water Cooler
• What Apple-FBI case means for your medical records
The issue of data privacy on mobile phones has been brought to public and judicial debate with Apple's refusal to create a backdoor into its operating systems. But the debates haven't yet highlighted that granting governments access to mobile phone data opens access not only to financial and personal information, but also to patient health records. As a Fortune contributor notes in a commentary story, the majority of patients and doctors are storing and transmitting healthcare information via mobile phones and connected medical devices. Mandating insecurity on smartphones would have broad implications for sensitive health data. Fortune
• Macau's economy shrinks 20% in 2015
Macau's economic output tumbled 20.3% last year as the world's largest center of gambling was hurt by falling casino revenue and fewer visitors amid China's anti-corruption campaign and a slowing economy. President Xi Jinping’s crackdown has deterred high rollers from traveling to Macau, which is the only place in China where casinos are legal. Investors have taken note: about $46 billion of market value were wiped out from the city's six casino operators last year. Still, there are signs the gambling market in Macau has reached a bottom, as there was a rise in the number of mainland Chinese tourists over last month's Lunar New Year holiday to ease the industry's 21-month slump. Bloomberg
• A bond trade pays off after 15 years
Thanks to a settlement this week, hedge fund manager Paul Singer's nearly 15-year-old wager on Argentinian government bonds has yielded $2.4 billion, including over $100 million for lawyer fees and other considerations, a gain of roughly 10 to 15 times its original investment. Singer's Elliott Management Corp., a New York hedge fund that manages $26 billion, began the investment in the early days of George W. Bush's first term. But it was only over the weekend that Elliott reached a final agreement with Argentina's new government to end what officials had once portrayed as a coercive assault on the nation's finances. The investment had notable outlasted five Argentine presidents. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
• LinkedIn CEO donates bonus to staff
Following a 40% plunge in share price earlier this month, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is donating his $14 million stock bonus to employees to make up for the drop. Tech news site Re/code first reported that Weiner's compensation package for 2016, disclosed for all of LinkedIn's executives in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, was missing because he was forgoing his annual stock grant for the year. “He asked the Compensation Committee to take the stock package he would have received and put it back in the pool for employees.” Fortune