Now that Donald Trump is the first CEO to become president, you’ve got to wonder how long it will be before the next one. Maybe just four years?
Politicos are buzzing over the recent activities of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He sets a personal goal for each year – in 2010 it was to learn Chinese – and this year it’s to visit all 50 states. His first stop was Waco, Texas, where he met with ministers and community leaders, which struck some campaign veterans as exactly the way a presidential candidate launches a campaign before announcing it. Two weeks ago he hired David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, to run policy and advocacy efforts at the foundation he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have established. They’re also forming a public policy advisory board of former government officials to help guide the foundation’s efforts; the board’s leader will be Kenneth Mehlman, who managed George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign.
None of this means Zuckerberg is considering a run. But he’s doing just about everything a CEO would be doing at this extremely early stage of the cycle if he were pondering a run.
You may recall that last year Facebook issued a new class of stock that would enable Zuckerberg and Chan to give away vast numbers of shares while still retaining control of the company. Part of the move’s stated rationale was that it would require Zuckerberg to remain as an executive in order to retain control – unless, that is, he resigned “in connection with his serving in a government position or office.” Another consideration: For as long as he remained connected to Facebook, he would have access to the greatest trove of public opinion intelligence in existence through analysis of Facebook posts. As a candidate, would he be permitted to use it? Would he try?
One wonders if other CEOs might be thinking of a run in this new environment. A short-lived 2015 rumor, never confirmed, held that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was interested for 2016. Hillary Clinton’s campaign put Schultz and Bill Gates on its list of possible v.p. nominees, though no evidence ever surfaced that either of them would have considered it.
Conventional wisdom, built on the political graves of Wendell Willkie, Ross Perot, and others, held that CEOs without government experience can’t become president. With that view disproven, a new class of contenders seems sure to emerge. It’s only a matter of time. And Zuckerberg in particular has a lot of time. He will turn 36 in 2020, meeting the constitutional requirement that a president be at least 35. He could postpone his run until 2052 and still be younger than Trump at inauguration.
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What We’re Reading Today
SEC investigates Yahoo security breaches
At issue is whether Marissa Mayer‘s company should have reported the two massive breaches it announced last year sooner than it did. One breach happened in 2013, the other in 2014, but the company says it didn’t know about them until last year. The investigation further complicates the $4.8-billion deal, not yet closed, to sell Yahoo’s Internet business to Lowell McAdam‘s Verizon. Reuters
Foxconn considers a $7-billion U.S. plant
Terry Gou‘s Taiwanese company, which manufactures Apple’s iPhones, said it would need government concessions and incentives before building any plant. The statement followed President Trump “America first” inaugural address, but Gou said he started considering the idea after speaking with SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son, who met with Trump in December. CNBC
Snapchat tackles fake news
The social media site today releases new guidelines for its news service, Discover, restricting risqué material published solely for clicks and prohibiting posts from third-party sites that could be considered fake news. It’s one way Evan Spiegel‘s company, Snap, will try to differentiate itself from Facebook as it prepares for an IPO. NYT
The owners behind Kraft Heinz
Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway owns 27% of Kraft Heinz, and the Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital owns 24%, but Buffett is happy to let 3G run the business. Its strategy is growth through acquisition, leading many to wonder what its next target will be. One rumored candidate: Irene Rosenfeld‘s Mondelez International, which was spun off from Kraft in 2012. Fortune
Building Better Leaders
A big reason venture capital investors trust their gut…
…is that they want to hit a home run. They know they’ll be wrong more times than not, but it’s a way to spot the next unicorn. Knowledge@Wharton
It takes an unemployed American 11 weeks to find a job
That’s longer than in Hong Kong and No. 1 Singapore, where it takes just eight weeks. Fortune
When Care.com CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo needed VC money…
…she battled investors’ unconscious bias by coming in with coffee. They thought she was the assistant, enabling her to make them aware of their hidden biases at the start. Inc.
Trump’s first week to focus on trade
President Trump reiterated his intention to renegotiate Nafta and is setting up meetings with Mexican and Canadian leaders this week. On Friday he will meet with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to begin talks on a trade pact with the country as it prepares to leave the European Union. WSJ
Group to sue Trump over his company’s ties
A liberal watchdog group argues that Trump‘s buildings must stop taking payments from foreign governments. They say he violates the Constitution’s rarely invoked Emoluments Clause, which prohibits government officials from accepting payments from foreign states. If successful, the suit could significantly hobble the Trump Organization, which leases space to foreign governments and state-owned companies. Washington Post
Conway backs Spicer’s claims
In his first meeting with the press, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted that Trump’s inauguration was the most attended and most viewed in U.S. history, though all available data show otherwise. Spicer lambasted the media for reporting the data. Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway supported Spicer’s “alternative facts.” NBC News
Up or Out
Hugo Barra, head of Chinese phone maker Xiaomi’s international division, has resigned. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
It cost New York $2.4 billion a mile…
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Trump takes a zero-sum view on economy
How CEOs should respond depends on what he does, not on what he says. Fortune
Women’s March participants say…
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Here’s a rundown of everything Trump promised to do on Day One
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Quote of the Day
“I’m not embarrassed to admit that Heinz is run far better under [3G] than would be the case if I were in charge.” — Warren Buffett on why he has entrusted the management of Kraft Heinz to 3G, even though Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder. Fortune