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Power Sheet: Why Mark Zuckerberg Went to Italy

Apologies! We are resending the Power Sheet because an earlier version didn’t contain today’s essay.

On Wednesday, in the wake of the deadly earthquake that struck Italy early that morning, two world leaders changed their plans so as to be there: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Renzi canceled a planned trip to a conference in France; Zuckerberg announced he was flying to Rome and “looking forward to spending time with our Italian community after last night’s earthquake.” Renzi’s motivation is obvious. But what was Zuckerberg’s?

This isn’t the first time he has behaved like a statesman as much as a CEO, and his stance raises a large question: Is he doing so for some reason of his own, or is the role of the CEO changing? At Facebook’s big developers’ conference in April he gave a speech exalting the company’s mission of uniting the world and taking a thinly veiled swipe at Donald Trump: “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others. For blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade and in some cases around the world even cutting access to the Internet.” Time dubbed him “the world’s youngest elder statesman.”

Then in July, when a police officer shot Philando Castile, whose girlfriend livestreamed his death on Facebook, Zuckerberg posted a message of condolence and then went further: “The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day.” Again, he went beyond the usual concerns of a CEO to comment on larger societal issues.

And now he’s in Italy, where Facebook has only modest operations. Why is he behaving like a government leader? We can’t read Zuckerberg’s mind, but his devotion to his company is so great that it seems unlikely he wants to run for office. There are, however, at least three good reasons for him to take this trip and more generally to be acting statesmanlike:

Tactically, showing concern for Europeans in a time of trouble is wise for Facebook. EU authorities are cracking down on American tech giants – Google for throwing its considerable weight around in various ways, and Apple just this week for allegedly underpaying taxes in Europe. Facebook’s privacy practices have already been challenged in a European court.

Society expects more from companies and CEOs than it has in the past. Making good products used to be enough. Now we expect companies to be good stewards of the environment, to look after the communities in which they operate, to provide good jobs, and more. CEOs are becoming more statesmanlike because we want them to be.

In the digital age, a few companies have achieved unprecedented global scale. And that means their CEOs are in some ways the peers of national leaders. It’s especially true of three CEOs: Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page, and Facebook’s Zuckerberg. Their global influence is such that they are statesmen whether they like it or not. It behooves them to act like it.

The role of the CEO is changing. Zuckerberg knows it and is embracing the change.

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What We’re Reading Today

Shari Redstone wants to merge Viacom and CBS
Redstone, who’s believed to be running much of the family’s business affairs, has discussed with company executives her desire to merge Viacom and CBS. With Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman set to step down, the Redstones – through the company they use to control Viacom and CBS – have nominated six directors that reportedly share her vision. Redstone wants CBS CEO Les Moonves to run the combined company, but he’s unsure if the deal makes sense due to Viacom’s struggling media properties. Fox Business

Mylan CEO fights back
Heather Bresch has come out on the defensive over the backlash from the 500% rise in EpiPen prices over nine years. A day after Mylan announced a program to help people save on the device that fights severe allergy attacks, Bresch says she shouldn’t be compared to pharmaceutical villain Martin Shkreli. Bresch reacted fast to the backlash, and she says the company still does good around the world. But, she added, “I am running a business. I am a for-profit business. I am not hiding from that.” NYT

Volkswagen to spend $1.2 billion to compensate dealers
Matthias Müller‘s company and Volkswagen’s 650 U.S. dealers announced in court that the two sides have come to an agreement over repayment for the loss in value for VW cars, following the fallout from the emission cheating. The $1.2 billion will also be set aside for vehicles that can’t be sold. Because of the scandal, U.S. dealers haven’t been allowed to sell new diesel vehicles for almost a year. Reuters

Sears Holdings gets another $300 million…
…from its CEO. Eddie Lampert provided the additional debt financing after another terrible quarter that saw comparable sales fall 7% at Sears. The $300 million in financing is on top of a $250 million loan Lampert’s hedge fund provided the company (which was part of a larger, $500 million loan). Lampert controls nearly half of all Sears shares. Fortune

Building a Better Leader

With the rise of telecommuting…
…it’s important to remember that there are also benefits to going into an office. That’s where spontaneous conversations can lead to innovation and it reduces miscommunication. Quartz

The reason so many women leave the engineering industry…
…isn’t due to the often cited stereotype of having children. In a new study, researchers found that many women engineers leave their jobs within five years, due to sexism. Fortune

The more money a CEO makes…
…the less positive view employees have of their leader, according to a study by Glassdoor. That’s not necessarily the case, though, for founders of companies or for a CEO who has developed a strong culture within the organization.  Money

Election 2016

Clinton tries to link Trump to the “alt-right”
In a speech in Nevada, Hillary Clinton tried to cast Donald Trump as a voice for hate groups and the radical fringe. She said that Trump has targeted the “alt-right,” which is a loose group of predominantly white men, known for racists and sexist comments. Trump responded that Clinton was bullying decent Americans and painting them as racists. CNN

Trump’s immigration problem
Donald Trump‘s comments about potentially easing his stance on deporting every illegal immigrant in the U.S. has divided his campaign. Some argue that it’s the right move, since it will broaden his support. Hardline supporters, like Sarah Palin, says if he does backtrack on immigration, it would be turning his back on all those that helped clinch his GOP nomination. WSJ

The Republican Party is due for a reckoning
Win or lose, Trump‘s run for president will likely lead to a vast reorganization among the GOP following the election, according to political analysts. If Trump wins, then the party will likely become more nationalistic and less ideologically conservative. A Trump loss, and the party could lose many of the people he has attracted over this campaign. USA Today

Up or Out

President Obama has nominated Jim Yong Kim to a second term as president of the World Bank.  NYT

Fortune Reads and Videos

Apple may be developing a Snapchat clone
Reports surfaced that Tim Cook‘s company is building a video-sharing app that would allow users to add filters and touch-ups to their clips, before sending them to friends. Fortune

Uber has lost at least $1.27 billion…
…in the first half of this year, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are accounted for. Driver subsidies is the main cause of the loss.  Fortune

Domino’s Pizza moves one step closer to drone deliveries
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, an international franchiser of the Domino’s brand, plans to test pizza deliveries via drone in New Zealand sometime this year. Fortune

The harassment actress Leslie Jones is facing online…
…has become a common workplace issue for public figures. But the racially-charged discrimination can be seen online, as opposed to when people face it at work, which often goes unreported. Fortune

Happy Birthday

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, turns 47 on Sunday.  Biography

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau