Today’s news offers three inspiring examples of leaders doing what true leaders do: going where others wont go.
-Uber raises still more capital outside of public markets. Back when “the sharing economy” was first hot, plenty of companies jumped on the trend and went nowhere. Remember Ecomodo, Crowd Rent, Share Some Sugar, and OhSoWe? Me neither, but Fast Company recounted the story last year. Uber founder Travis Kalanick succeeded where they didn’t by thinking through the market potential of his idea and designing his business model more carefully than anyone else. As the company has succeeded spectacularly, he has rejected conventional thinking by refusing to go public, instead raising capital from venture firms, big institutions, strategic investors (like Microsoft), and a Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
Now he’s borrowing $3.5 billion. But wait – if you borrow that much, won’t you have to register with the SEC and file financial reports that disclose competitive information, thus losing a big advantage of staying private? No. Uber is borrowing all that money as a leveraged loan, originated by banks and then sold to big institutions, not to the public. So even at a valuation of $68 billion, Uber won’t have to give up valuable information to competitors.
-IEX Group is likely to get government approval for a new stock exchange. If you read Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys, you know how this unlikely story started. Now sources tell the WSJ that the SEC staff will recommend approval of the bid by Brad Katsuyama and the company he formed, IEX Group, to start a new stock exchange. The formal vote is expected Friday. Katsuyama’s simple innovation is to add an electronic speed bump to trading, hindering ultra-high-frequency traders that he and some big mutual funds have called abusive.
The proposal has been extraordinarily controversial, drawing vehement attacks from established markets such as Nasdaq. Some opponents warn the system would force traders to rely on “stale quotes.” It’s all a little hard for average investors to understand: IEX wants to delay trades by less than one-thousandth of a second. Katsuyama thought that would be a big deal, and he was right.
-Starbucks makes millions of dollars a year just by holding customers’ money. Retailer loyalty programs are not a new idea. Neither are stored-value cards. But 15 years ago Starbucks had an idea for combining them and pushing them hard when most retailers didn’t quite see the point. Now Starbucks customers in the U.S. and Canada make 41% of their transactions using those cards, reports MarketWatch, and the company holds $1.2 billion of customers’ money. That’s more float than Discover Financial Services. CEO Howard Schultz has always run Starbucks differently from competitors, to the point where it’s getting hard to say just who its competitors are.
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What We’re Reading Today
Clinton and Sanders meet
After Hillary Clinton easily won the final primary in Washington, D.C., yesterday, she and Bernie Sanders met for two hours. He agreed to work with Clinton to defeat Donald Trump, but her post-meeting statement mentioned unifying the Democratic Party, while his did not. Sanders will likely push for changes in the party platform at the national convention next month. NBC News
Walmart and P&G butt heads
Doug McMillon‘s stores have a long and deep relationship with David Taylor‘s Procter & Gamble. But last year Walmart began adding more P&G competitors’ products to its shelves. Both companies are struggling to grow; Walmart has urged suppliers to cut prices further in order to compete with Amazon. That’s painful for P&G, but Walmart is its most important retail outlet. WSJ
Whole Foods warned by the FDA
The Food and Drug Administration notified co-ceos John Mackey and Walter Robb that it had discovered “serious violations,” such as failure to sanitize food prep areas and sinks without hot water, at a food preparation plant in Everett, Massachusetts. The letter questioned Whole Foods’ willingness to respond to the findings after the co-CEOs had assured the FDA it would address the problems. CNNMoney
Martha Stewart targets Blue Apron
Stewart‘s company and ingredient delivery service Marley Spoon have teamed up to create a food delivery offering that will include Stewart’s recipes and dinner prep techniques. Reports last week indicated that the largest player in the field, Matt Salzberg‘s Blue Apron, is considering an IPO. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Encouraging “meaningful” work may seem superfluous…
…but creating such a culture can do wonders for recruitment of top talent. Entrepreneur
Learning to own your mistakes…
…will help you feel more comfortable taking the lead on projects or group discussions. Fortune
Little progress on number of women directors
Women gained 27% of open board seats in 2015, but the number of S&P 500 companies’ board seats held by women increased less than one percentage point. Boston Globe
As The Brexit Vote Nears…
Markets in turmoil over possible exit
As new polls indicate that British voters favor exiting the EU, investors are moving funds into Germany, and market volatility has increased. Brexit advocates are decrying the tactics of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, claiming he’s falsely inflaming panic in order to stay in the EU. The vote is a week from tomorrow. WSJ
Banks prep for the possibility
Michael Corbat‘s Citigroup, Lloyd Blankfein‘s Goldman Sachs, and other banks are preparing for the possibility of a “leave” vote. Many will keep senior staff on call the night of the vote because no one knows what might happen; investor reaction could test the limits of banks’ and stock exchanges’ computer systems. Reuters
Facebook accused of pro-Brexit bias
Users looking at their activities section found the option to add “in favor of leaving the EU” to a profile. But the other option, “in favor of remaining in the EU,” wasn’t there unless you searched for it. Mark Zuckerberg‘s company said there was no bias, and the phrase would be there based only on a user’s other activities. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
Shari Redstone spoke with Alibaba’s Jack Ma about Paramount
Her father, majority owner Sumner Redstone, is apparently trying to oust Viacom Chairman Philippe Dauman for trying to shed the studio. Fortune
Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says tech IPOs will pick up again
Just wait another year. Fortune
Donald Trump tried to build a movie studio
He wanted it to be double the size of Universal Studios, but the 2012 plan went nowhere. Fortune
Twitter invests $70 million…
…in audio file-sharing service SoundCloud. It’s unclear why CEO Jack Dorsey made the move. Fortune
Chinese President Xi Jinping turns 63 today. Biography