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Power Sheet – April 25, 2016

Scheduled leadership-and-power events this week are few but significant. Most prominent will be primaries tomorrow in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, all of which will likely be won by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (though there’s scant polling in Delaware). The interesting questions will be 1) exactly how many of the 172 Republican delegates in play will go to Trump and thus how far he advances toward possibly winning a clear majority before the convention; 2) whether anyone figures out which candidates are favored by each of Pennsylvania’s 54 unpledged delegates, who are not required even to declare a preference; and 3) whether John Kasich beats Ted Cruz for second place, which he has a shot at doing, in Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, as a gauge of whether Cruz’s support is waxing or waning. The new Cruz-Kasich non-aggression pact will not affect tomorrow’s primaries.

Also this week, Janet Yellen and the Fed will decide whether to raise rates. Practically no one expects them to do so; the important news will be whether their statement suggests an increase at the June meeting. The announcement will come Wednesday at 2 pm EDT. The next morning at 8:30, the Commerce Department will announce first-quarter GDP growth, which economists expect to be very weak, probably less than 1%. Not an environment that seems to favor rate hikes.


For a truly inspiring leadership story that you will not read elsewhere, please check Clifton Leaf’s account of how Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker is attacking cancer. You probably saw Parker’s recent announcement that he’s committing $250 million to something called the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, but you may not have realized what an unusual enterprise this is, how difficult it was to create, and what makes it so particularly promising.

Parker “is doing something unprecedented in academic medicine,” Leaf explains. He is “combining and coordinating the efforts of six of the top cancer immunology centers in the country—MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Penn Medicine, Stanford, UCLA, and UCSF.” That sounds like an obviously good idea, but in the world of cancer research it was considered impossible because of, among other factors, “the zeal for secrecy among competitors that prevents the quick sharing of ideas, tools, and platforms.” As one top researcher told Leaf, “Never before would I think you could get all these institutions to sign the exact same document.” Yet Parker, who co-created Napster and invested early in Facebook and Spotify, made it happen.

Cliff Leaf is one of journalism’s leading authorities on cancer research and author of The Truth in Small Doses: Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer – and How to Win It. His telling of how Parker’s passion, determination, and original thinking helped him unite forces for a noble cause is instructive for any leader who wants to achieve the seemingly impossible.

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What We’re Reading Today

Former Warren Buffett heir apparent becomes an activist investor 

David Sokol, who unceremoniously left Berkshire Hathaway five years ago in the midst of a controversial stock trading maneuver, has resurfaced as an activist investor. His company, Teton Capital, owns 30% of the bank Middleburg Financial and is pushing it to find a buyer. He has also taken a larger role in politics, supporting Jeb Bush and now deciding whom to support next.  WSJ

Only one is steering Theranos through its crisis    

As the blood-testing company battles regulators and a criminal investigation, founder Elizabeth Holmes holds complete control as the largest shareholder, CEO, and board chairwoman. The company may bring on new talent to help with its troubles, but Holmes is where all decisions (and credit or blame) will rest. NYT

The man going after Tesla

Jia Yueting is a tech billionaire in China who believes his country’s expertise will surpass Elon Musk‘s Tesla and all other makers of electric cars. Owner of Le Holdings (LeEco), he considers a vehicle a smart mobile device on wheels. Last week the company introduced an electric concept car called LeSEE, which it expects to rival Tesla’s Model S. Jia is building it in Nevada, where Tesla makes batteries. Fortune

Gannett offers $815 million for Tribune Publishing

The merger would give the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to Bob Dickey‘s Gannett, which owns USA Today. Responding to the bid will be an early test for new Tribune CEO Justin Dearborn, who took the reins in February. The price is nearly a 63% premium to Tribune stock’s closing price on Friday. CNBC

Building a Better Leader

We’re way harder on bad decisions made by female leaders

In a research scenario of failed leadership, respondents would have docked male leaders’ pay by 10%. For women leaders the cut averaged nearly 30% on average, plus a demotion. Harvard Business Review

McDonald’s is attributing better service and happier employees… 

…to its decision to raise wages last year. CEO Steve Easterbrook says the change is also reducing turnover. Fortune

CEOs are concerned about the election’s populist tone

The themes of both parties’ contests concern big-company CEOs, potentially reducing consumer confidence and derailing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. WSJ

Political Decisions

Trump responds to new strategy by Cruz and Kasich

Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced that they will coordinate efforts in order to prevent Donald Trump from gaining a clear majority of delegates before the convention. Cruz will focus on Indiana while Kasich concentrates on New Mexico and Oregon. Neither candidate can secure a majority before the convention. Trump called the tactic “sad.”  Fortune

Obama to send 250 more troops to Syria

President Barack Obama, in Germany meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the troops would provide assistance and training to local forces fighting ISIS. USA Today

White House set to release part of secret 9/11 report 

The Obama administration is likely set to release part of a report from a congressional inquiry into 9/11. The 28-page document reportedly discusses who supported the hijackers and implicates Saudi Arabia. The move comes as Saudi-U.S. relations have been strained. AP

Up or Out

Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun is stepping down as CEO. He will be succeeded by Vishal Makhijani. Fortune

Fortune Reads and Videos

Bill Clinton knows why voters are so angry

If millennials had just voted in the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats would have held the Senate and wages would be higher, he says. Fortune

Obama’s plea to Britain to stay in the EU…

…may have carried weight. After his comments, betting odds swayed heavily toward Britain staying. Fortune

Google may soon bring its Google Play app store to Chome OS…

…which could add over a million new apps for use on the operating system. Fortune

Silicon Valley might be able to laugh at itself after all

At least plenty of tech luminaries laughed when watching the third-season premier of HBO’s Silicon Valley in San Francisco. Though some Valley insiders hate it. Fortune

Quote of the Day

“We did not discover … Saudi government involvement at the highest level of the 9/11 attacks…We certainly did not exonerate the Saudis. … Saudi was a fertile ground for fundraising for al-Qaida. Some of these issues continue to be problems today. That’s why we need to continue to get to the bottom of this.” — Tim Roemer, who served on the 9/11 Commission and a joint congressional inquiry into the attacks, discussing Saudi Arabia’s involvement in funding the terrorists; a previously secret report on the issue may soon become public.  AP

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau