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Power Sheet – May 27, 2016

I’m just speculating, but I’d bet money that Disney CEO Bob Iger’s inbox is bulging with emails from fellow CEOs saying, in effect, “Let him have it and don’t let up!” Which raises the question, Why don’t more CEOs do what Iger did?

The story in brief is that Bernie Sanders ripped into Disney with special vim on Tuesday, telling a crowd in Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, that “Disney pays its workers wages that are so low that many of them are forced to live in motels because they can’t afford a decent place to live. Meanwhile Disney made a record-breaking profit of nearly $3 billion last quarter,” and “the CEO of Disney made $46.5 million in total compensation last year. That is what we’re talking about in a rigged economy.”

Iger responded by going on Facebook and actually saying what every CEO in his situation would want to say: “To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade, and our company has created 18,000 in the US in the last five years. How many jobs have you created? What have you contributed to the US economy?”

Disney isn’t the first big company to get lambasted in this presidential race, but as far as I can tell, Iger is the first CEO to show he can give as good as he gets. Sanders and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly roasted Johnson Controls for its planned merger with Tyco International, which would move Johnson Controls’ tax domicile to Ireland and reduce its U.S. taxes. Just before the Indiana primary, Sanders, Clinton, and Donald Trump all condemned United Technologies for planning to close a Carrier plant in Indianapolis and move production to Mexico. “The greed of United Technologies is unbelievable,” said Sanders. Trump went further and promised action: “Carrier will not leave Indiana if I’m president.”

Yet unlike Iger, neither Johnson Controls CEO Alex Molinaroli nor United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes made a peep, at least in public. They were probably wise, not cowardly.

Both of their companies were taking specific actions that were economically justified and arguably necessary but not widely popular. Responding to candidates’ criticisms would only draw more attention and inflame the issue. In addition, Clinton or Trump will probably be the next president, and no CEO wants potentially to damage his or her company’s competitiveness by being on record as an outspoken opponent of the world’s most powerful person.

Disney, by contrast, is doing nothing especially controversial at the moment and is performing excellently. Iger had a powerful riposte on job creation, and Sanders is not going to be president. Because Iger is supporting Clinton, he can’t be dismissed as a stereotype CEO who hates Democrats.

So bravo, Bob Iger! I wish more of his peers would speak out as he did. But it was only a rare combination of circumstances that enabled him to do so; for most CEOs, emulating him must remain a cherished fantasy. The reality is that we won’t hear many CEOs taking high-profile positions on this race – especially since most CEOs don’t like any of the remaining candidates. But that’s another topic.

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What We’re Reading Today

Obama visits Hiroshima 

He’s the first sitting president to visit the city that the U.S. destroyed in 1945 with the first military use of an atomic weapon. Speaking at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Obama called for the end of nuclear weapons but did not apologize.  NBC News

Google prevails over Oracle in high-stakes copyright case

Larry Ellison’s Oracle was seeking $9 billion from Google for using parts of Oracle’s Java software in the Android operating system. A federal jury found that Google’s actions were permitted under rules for “fair use” of copyrighted material. Oracle says it will appeal. Fortune

Facebook and Microsoft team up… 

…to lay a fiber optic cable across the Atlantic Ocean. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella want to control more of the Internet’s wiring. Their companies built the cable with Spain’s Telefonica; when it enters service next year, it’s expected to be the highest capacity link in the Atlantic.  WSJ

Still more Takata recalls  

Car makers plan to recall 12 million vehicles in the U.S. and 7 million vehicles in JapanTakahiro Hachigo‘s Honda Motor will recall 4.5 million U.S. vehicles while Sergio Marchionne‘s Fiat Chrysler will recall 4.3 million cars. Shigehisa Takada‘s Takata recently hired Lazard to find ways to bring in more cash.  Yahoo

Building a Better Leader

To prepare yourself for a career change…

…act as if you’re about to get fired. It can help ensure you’ve got the needed financial support during the sometimes lengthy process. Fortune

The use of non-GAAP measures in evaluating executive performance… 

…has helped increase CEO pay. Measures that exclude some costs, such as restructuring charges, can help CEOs achieve goals more easily. WSJ

Startup’s latest perk for employees: Paying for their weddings

Boxed Wholesale will pay up to $20,000 for an employee’s nuptials. Quartz

Emergency Plans

Gawker fires back at Peter Thiel

Gawker founder Nick Denton published an open letter to Thiel, saying that his anonymous funding of lawsuits against the news site shows how “thin-skinned” he and Silicon Valley are. Denton added that Thiel was acting like a “comic-book villain” waging unnecessary attacks against media and journalists. The letter came hours after Gawker acknowledge it has been exploring the possibility of a sale.   Gawker

Baylor University reacts to sex assault cases

The Baylor football team has been under close scrutiny over misconduct by a number of players. Yesterday the university announced it will fire the most successful coach in school history, Art Briles, reassign President Kenneth Starr, and place athletic director Ian McCaw on probation. An internal report found that the administration had mishandled multiple reports of sexual abuse, as winning football was placed above all. NYT

First super-bug in U.S. confirmed by CDC

Researchers identified the first U.S. patient with an infection that’s immune to all forms of antibiotics. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the infection a sign that we “risk being in a post-antibiotic world.” It’s unknown how quickly the infection could spread. Fortune

Up or Out

Twitter commerce and media chief Nathan Hubbard and head of business development Jana Messerschmidt are leaving the company.  Fortune

Sears CFO Robert Schriesheim has stepped down but will remain at the company until a replacement is found.  CFO

Fortune Reads and Videos

Sumner Redstone’s succession plan…

…is typical of a certain type of leader. The leaders of Facebook, Alibaba, and Amazon should take note. Fortune

GM will end production of its Buick Verano

The rise of SUVs is to blame. Fortune

FDA approves the first implant to fight opioid addiction

The device, created by Titan Pharmaceuticals and distributed by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, provides continuing doses of medicine that reduce drug dependency. Fortune

Whole Foods is selling an invasive, poisonous fish

It started selling the lionfish in Florida, where the species has become a problem for local wildlife. Don’t worry, the poisonous spines are removed first. Fortune

Happy Birthday

Florida Senator Marco Rubio turns 45 tomorrow.  Biography

Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani turns 72 tomorrow.  Biography

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer turns 41 on Monday.  Biography

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau
@ryanderous
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