Skip to Content

Data Sheet—Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It’s hard selling your baby—and by that I mean a company you founded, not an actual baby.

Take Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former CEO of DreamWorks Animation. He started the studio back in 1994 (it was originally part of DreamWorks SKG, which he founded with famed director Steven Spielberg and music mogul David Geffen). The animation studio went on to produce 32 films, including Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon. There were also some duds along the way, but the end result was a fruitful one: Last month, the company sold to Comcast for $3.8 billion. Katzenberg, meanwhile, walked away from the deal with an estimated $400 million. The only catch? He says it wasn’t his plan to leave—a condition of Comcast’s.

I profiled the longtime studio exec in the most recent issue of Fortune. “Of course,” he told me when I asked if selling his company was hard. “It’s my baby, and I’ve spent 22 years here. My work is my happiness and my happiness is being here at DreamWorks.”

The $400 million or so that he received should help soften the blow. But for many CEOs—especially those who start and stick with their offspring well past infancy—walking away can still be tough. Katzenberg’s recipe for reinventing himself now that the longest-running chapter of his career is over? Speed. He has already thrown himself into the next venture: running his own investment firm, which he says will focus on the convergence of media and technology. And while the transition isn’t pain-free, he doesn’t look back, and wastes no time being nostalgic or remorseful.

Letting go and moving on is an important lesson for all CEOs. Of course it’s easier if you’re driving away in a white Tesla Model S, like Katzenberg. Or leaving with a massive golden parachute. But even some of those privileged execs take way too long to exit. Silicon Valley is no different. Yes, founder CEOs who are still running the show are revered for a reason. But sometimes, the best thing you can do—for yourself as well—is to walk away. Go start another baby.

Michal Lev-Ram is a senior writer at Fortune. Reach her via email. Share this essay.


Mattel, Hasbro are fined for invading kids’ privacy. The giant toy companies, along with Viacom and JumpStart, were collecting too much data about children’s browsing habits—federal laws make it illegal to track anyone under the age of 13. The investigation covered some of the most popular cyber playgrounds out there, including Nickelodeon, Barbie and Hot Wheels, My Little Pony, and Nerf. (Wired)

The iPhone overhaul begins. Sprint and T-Mobile are reporting brisk preorders for the next-generation phones unveiled last week, but the iOS 10 software update didn’t go quite as smoothly as anticipated for what Apple describes as a “small number of users.” (Fortune, Fortune)

New York may force banks to hire chief information security officers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed new regulations that would require financial services firms to invest in specific (and in many cases expensive) cyber-protection measures. (Wall Street Journal)

What your facial expressions say about your investment preferences. Wealth manager UBS is piloting the use of artificial intelligence to “watch” clients as they view videos about financial planning. The software suggests strategies based on a person’s natural reactions to the messages. (Reuters)

Alibaba pays $100 million for eye-scan tech firm. The Chinese e-commerce giant’s payments arm, Ant Financial, is buying EyeVerify, a maker of optical recognition technology used by Wells Fargo along with dozens of regional banks and credit unions across the country. (Fortune)

Uber debuts self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. But don’t get too excited: Only four vehicles are part of the experiment, and two people will sit in the front to take over driving if things go wrong. (Reuters)

Samsung will cap the Galaxy Note 7’s battery life. It wants owners to turn in the smartphones as part of a massive recall over exploding batteries. For those who refuse, Samsung plans a software update that will not allow the Galaxy Note 7’s battery life to exceed 60%. (Fortune)

SAP’s expense software division just bought an interesting search startup. Concur, which SAP bought for more than $8 billion several years ago, is paying an undisclosed sum for Hipmunk, which specializes in software for booking travel arrangements. (TechCrunch)


IBM names first-ever chief marketing officer. Michelle Peluso is leaving the venture world for her new post. She is the former CEO of flash-sales site Gilt, which is part of the Hudson Bay Company, and previously ran global consumer marketing and Internet strategy for Citigroup. (Fortune)

Marketing software unicorn adds COO, asks John Chambers for advice. New York-based Sprinklr has hired Tim Page as its chief operating officer. He previously held the same position at VCE, the data center equipment division of EMC. Sprinklr, which scored a $105 million funding round in July, also hired Chambers and marketing guru Mohan Sawhney with the Kellogg School of Management as its first two strategic advisers. (Sprinklr)

Salesforce will name chief equality officer. Details are sketchy, but the person will report directly to CEO Marc Benioff, an advocate of workplace diversity and gender equity. (Fortune)


Meet Ruth Porat, the Wall Street veteran who’s helping Google get disciplined. Porat’s work ethic stands out even by the caffeinated standards of Wall Street—she once worked two days with a shattered shoulder blade to prep former employer Morgan Stanley for its annual earnings call.

At Google, where she started in May 2015, Porat has traded suits and heels for hoodies and jeans. She jumped immediately into the task of restructuring Google under a new corporate umbrella, Alphabet—and showing investors how much the company was earning from and spending on its core search and ads business on the one hand and its “moonshot” projects on the other. So far Porat has given shareholders plenty to celebrate, a feat that landed her at No. 13 on Fortune’s latest Most Powerful Women ranking.


SoftBank Invests in a New-Age Cloud Company, by Barb Darrow

Corporate America’s Love Affair With Podcasting, by Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Here’s Why Alibaba Will Never Buy Back Yahoo Stake, by Jen Wieczner 

Why the Big Enemy of Online Ads Adblock Plus Is Launching Its Own Ad Platform, by David Meyer

Zenefits Settles Compliance Issues With 3 More States, by Heather Clancy


Jeff Bezos reaches toward Mars in space race. The Amazon founder’s “other” company, Blue Origin, said its next rocket, New Glenn, is capable of reaching low Earth orbit. The technology has twice the liftoff thrust of the Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Speaking of which, Musk’s organization is planning to resume Falcon 9 launches in November. It lost a rocket and a communications satellite in a Sept. 1 launchpad fire. (Wired, Reuters)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

Share it: Find past issues.
Sign up for other 
Fortune newsletters.