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CEO Daily: Friday, 15th July

Another horrendous terror attack in France is overshadowing all other news this morning. At least 84 people are dead as a result of a large truck that plowed through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, driving over a mile before police shot the driver. The event happened just after France had lifted the state of emergency put in place after November’s Paris attacks. That’s now been extended for three months.


The attack led Donald Trump to delay announcement of his vice presidential pick, but the media is reporting that he has decided on Indiana governor Mike Pence. Pence is a strong conservative on both economic and social issues, but has shown pragmatism that comes from having to actually run a large state. On business issues, he is reliably pro-trade and previously has criticized Trump for his extreme views on immigration. He came under attack from some business groups last year for signing a religious liberties bill in Indiana that was seen as discriminating against gays, but then softened the bill’s language to address concerns.


Meanwhile, the last effort to stop Trump from getting the nomination by allowing convention delegates to “vote their conscience” fizzled last night.


More below.


Alan Murray

Top News

Dragon’s Dive Flattens Out

China’s annual growth rate stayed at 6.7% in the second quarter, slightly ahead of expectations, reflecting the short-term boost to demand from stimulus measures taken towards the end of 2015. While doubts remain about how exactly officials arrive at their figures, other data such as PMI surveys and foreign reserves also point to a stabilization over the last three months after a clear slowdown in the previous 12. The figures seem strong enough to make another stimulus package in the near term unlikely. Economists still expect some substantial drags on GDP in 2H though: Brexit may hit exports, severe flooding in the Yangtze valley has hit areas that account for 20% of the economy, restructurings in the state-owned enterprise sector from steel to travel agencies are gathering pace, and there is continued uncertainty over bad debts in the financial system. Fortune

The EU’s Triple Whammy on Google

As expected, the European Union opened a third front against Google in its antitrust probe, accusing it of abusing its 80% market share in the placement of search advertizing on third-party websites. This relates to Google’s “AdSense for Search” platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as those of online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers, with searches producing results that include search ads. AdWords and AdSense have been on the Commission’s radar since 2010, after rivals complained about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers. They form the core of Google’s business which posted about $75 billion in revenue last year, generating 90 percent of Alphabet’s total annual revenue. Fortune

Pokemon GO Developer Eyes Fast Launch Rollout

The CEO of Niantic, the developer behind Nintendo’s Pokemon GO, said he wanted to launch the smash-hit mobile game in roughly 200 countries and regions “relatively soon” and was working on bolstering server capacity to enable the wider rollout. So far, it’s only available in five countries (the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Germany). John Hanke didn’t provide too much detail but told Reuters that Ingress, Niantic’s first location-based augmented reality game, had taken a month or two to reach that number of markets. His comments drove Nintendo’s share price up another 10% in Tokyo Friday, making it an 86% gain for the week. Elswhere there have been reports of a wave of trespassing as players go chasing their targets, and even of two players who fell off a cliff doing the same.  Reuters


HBO Looks to Sweep Emmys Again

The Television Academy announced its 2016 Emmy nominees on Thursday and, just like last year, HBO spent the day counting up its nominations. HBO, which is owned by Time Warner, led all networks and platforms with a whopping 94 total nominations this year, including 23 for the massively popular fantasy series Game of Thrones. HBO’s Veep earned the most nominations for a comedy series, with 17. While it was certainly a banner day for the premium cable network, HBO’s tally actually dropped off from 2015, when the network garnered 126 nominations. That figure was always going to be hard to reproduce. Worryingly for the established players, three of the four major broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, and FOX—all saw their nomination totals fall, while NBC’s tally remained flat year-over-year. Streaming service Netflix took another big bite out of their nosebag, increasing its tally of nominations to 54 from 34 a year ago. Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

Facebook Is Still White and Male

Facebook updated its statistics on diversity among its workforce, and the company is almost as white and male as it ever was. The share of black and Hispanic workers stuck at 4% and 2%, while the percentage of women inched up by 1% to 33%. Facebook said the “pipeline”—a term used to refer to the numbers of minorities and women entering the tech industry—remained the main cause for the figures, rather than any discrimination on its own part. The Wall Street Journal, by contrast, quotes recruitment experts as saying that there are more than enough black and Hispanic computer science graduates to be choosing from. It may not be quite Glasgow Rangers soccer club, which famously used to joke that it would sign a Catholic player “as soon as there was one born good enough,” but the figures still leave room to doubt the seriousness of Facebook’s commitment. WSJ, subscription required

Bayer Sweetens Monsanto Bid (a Bit)

Rumors of interest from its long-standing rival BASF seem to have pushed Bayer into improving its offer for Monsanto. The German company raised its offer by a relatively meager $3 to $125 a share, offering also a $1.5 billion ‘reverse antitrust breakup fee’ as a token of its seriousness. Reuters’ sources indicated Monsanto may already reply by the end of the week, amid some commentary from analysts that the bid still didn’t fairly reflect the value of its portfolio, once annual savings and efficiencies are factored in. However, some skepticism about its earning power seems justified: Monsanto’s net income fell 37% year-on-year in the quarter ended May 31. Fortune

Is Amazon Building the Cloud or Buying it?

Amazon’s cloud is getting some fancy new tools. The retail giant’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services, bought a small startup called Cloud9 that specializes in software development tools. Cloud9 revealed the deal on Thursday, but did not disclose how much it was worth. Cloud9 is based in both Amsterdam and San Francisco and has under 50 employees. The startup built a so-called integrated development environment, which is basically an-all-in-one software package that gives coders a bunch of tools to build, test, debug, and run their own software. It’s unclear whether Amazon is acquiring the startup for its workforce or to incorporate some of its technology within its own service. Fortune

Swatch Pays the Price of Loyalty

More misery for Switzerland’s luxury goods makers: Swatch Group, which controls the high-end Omega and Breguet brands of watches well as its more famous and affordable products, said sales fell 12% in the first half from a year ago, and profits were down by between 50%-60%. Key markets in both Asia and Europe disappointed. The company is paying a high short-term price for its loyalty to its Swiss-based workforce, which it is still counting on to deliver future innovation and profit. The shares fell 11% in Zurich and are now down by nearly 40% in the last year. Fortune