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
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Sears Holdings gets another $300 million…
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Building a Better Leader
With the rise of telecommuting…
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The reason so many women leave the engineering industry…
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The more money a CEO makes…
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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
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The Republican Party is due for a reckoning
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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
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Uber has lost at least $1.27 billion…
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Domino’s Pizza moves one step closer to drone deliveries
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The harassment actress Leslie Jones is facing online…
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Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, turns 47 on Sunday. Biography