Skip to Content

Power Sheet – June 23, 2016

-Remain’s proponent problem. Britain is voting on Brexit as this newsletter goes out to readers, and I’ve given up trying to guess the outcome. But the whole saga has posed an unusual dilemma for leaders, exemplified in the letter signed by 1,280 CEOs favoring Remain published in yesterday’s Times of London. You might suppose that in a debate overwhelmingly about economics, CEOs’ views would carry some weight, and no doubt they will. The trouble is that CEOs are exactly the figures least likely to persuade the people they’re trying to persuade.

We should be careful drawing parallels between the Leave phenomenon and the TrumpSanders phenomenon, but they have this in common: They’re driven by rejection of established authority, and the more that powers of the establishment criticize them, the stronger they become. So when over a thousand CEOs tell Leave backers they’re wrong, what more do they need to know? They see it as further evidence that they’re right.

Not that I blame the CEOs for signing the letter. It might sway a few undecided voters, which is probably the best that could be hoped for. But even if the Leavers lose, they’ve created a movement just as the Trumpkins and the Sandernistas have, and leaders will continue to face the question of how to deal with all of them.

-Which way would robots vote? I’ve been preaching for a while that all leaders need to think hard about robots and artificial intelligence because they’re going to reshape our world profoundly and sooner than most think. Latest evidence: a draft motion before the European parliament to give robots legal status as “electronic persons with specific rights and obligations.” Companies using robots would apparently have to pay tax on the money they save on social security contributions by not employing humans, among other requirements.

Yes, this is ridiculous, but it reflects growing anxiety over technology’s threat to human employment. The threat is still theoretical; for all we know, robots may create more and better jobs, just as advancing technology has been doing for 200 years. But more people than usual worry that this time is different, and there’s no denying that it feels different. Google researchers and academic scientists recently published a paper on preventing accidents in AI systems, and a Russian robot has reportedly “escaped” from its lab – twice – and disrupted traffic. Duke University researchers have created a processor especially for one of the hardest tasks in robotics, “motion planning” – for example, reaching into the back of a crowded refrigerator to pull out a bottle. And that’s just from this week’s news.

Getting ahead of this issue means listening to people who sound nuts as well as those who don’t. It’s a good moment to remember the seemingly crazy people who foretold the financial crisis in 2007 and the Internet’s potential in 1992, and to seek out their equivalents today.

You can share Power Sheet with friends and followers here.

What We’re Reading Today

Britain votes on Brexit
Polls indicate a virtual tie. The vote could determine the future of Prime Minister David Cameron, who favors staying in the European Union; if voters choose to leave, calls for a new Prime Minister will grow. The business and economic implications would be vast; S&P says it will downgrade Britain’s AAA credit rating if Britain votes to leave.  Washington Post

House Democrats’ sit-in continues
House Democrats staged a sit-in to demand a vote on gun control laws, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The sit-in started Wednesday morning and continued into the overnight hours. Late into the night, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans adjourned the House until July 5 after voting on a Zika virus bill while ignoring the Democrats. The Democrats now protest in a closed session. CNN

SolarCity amended bylaws on the day of Tesla’s bid
Tesla (CEO and largest shareholder: Elon Musk) offered $2.8 billion for the struggling solar panel company on Monday, the same day that SolarCity (chairman and largest shareholder: Elon Musk) required that all lawsuits against it take place in Delaware. The move would help SolarCity manage anticipated investor suits arguing that the proposed deal is just a way for Musk to save a faltering venture of his.  Fortune

Judge keeps Viacom board intact for now
A Delaware judge has delayed Sumner Redstone‘s request to remove five members of the Viacom board, including Chairman Philippe Dauman. Judge Andre Bouchard says the decision is only to allow time for arguments on whether the move is valid. He said he wants to avoid discussion of Redstone’s competency.  Reuters

Building a Better Leader

Average cost to go to work: $3,300 a year
That includes transportation costs, coffee breaks, and child care. Business News Daily

Before you hire a friend or relative…
…ask yourself four questions. One wrong answer should kill the deal. Fortune

For younger workers, has the side-hustle turned into…
…a required hustle? Many millennials are working second, freelance jobs for extra money, not to follow a passion. Quartz

Business and Politics Mix

Over 50 business execs set to endorse Clinton…
…some of whom are longtime Republicans. Most notably, Jim Cicconi, an AT&T Services executive who served in the Reagan administration, and Dan Akerson, former General Motors CEO, say they will endorse Hillary Clinton because they’re not comfortable with Donald Trump‘s policy stances or campaign behavior. WSJ

Donald Trump heads to Scotland…
…to promote a golf course. Presidential candidates often make foreign trips, but it’s typically to meet with government leaders. Republican leaders are increasingly concerned that he isn’t running a serious campaign. But since reports Monday showed he had only $1.3 million on hand at the end of May, he has reportedly raised $11 million in a couple of days. NYT

Supreme Court justices disclose gifts
Justice Clarence Thomas received a bronze statue of an abolitionist worth over $6,000, while Justice Elena Kagan received a first edition of a book worth about $500. While not all justices received gifts, they did take paid trips. Interest in the justices’ gifts has increased following the death of Antonin Scalia, who died while on such a trip in Texas.  The Hill

Up or Out

Valeant Pharmaceuticals named Sam Eldessouky chief accounting officer.  MarketWatch

Fortune Reads and Videos

After Republicans shut down C-Span coverage of the House…
…Democrats protesting gun control streamed their efforts live via Twitter’s Periscope, providing much needed publicity for Jack Dorsey‘s company. Fortune

Cloud communications startup’s successful IPO
Twilio raised $150 million, which is more than it anticipated. Fortune

Libertarians get an hour on CNN
Presidential candidate Gary Johnson failed to wow during his town hall, but the program was an unprecedented opportunity for the party. Fortune

Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg has tape on his computer
And he’s not the only one who does it.  Fortune

Happy Birthday

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas turns 68 today.  Biography


Share Today’s Power Sheet:

Produced by Ryan Derousseau