Data Sheet—Thursday, March 23, 2017
Good morning. Defining leadership calls to mind the famous Louis Brandeis quip about pornography: You know it when you see it. Fortune publishes its annual list of the world’s greatest leaders Thursday. As you’d expect, tech is well represented.
The luminaries from the realm of IT include Alibaba’s Jack Ma, former Microsoft executive Melinda Gates, Jeff Bezos (last year’s No.1), Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Yuri Milner, and comeback CEO of the year candidate Lisa Su of chipmaker AMD. Our list is subjective, but it tends to reward leaders either for their vision or their commitment to something beyond the world of business—or both. As I wrote last year, Bezos has begun to expand his horizons well beyond Amazon. He’s a newspaper publisher and rocket company proprietor now. Musk is a triple threat who has put combatting climate change at the heart of his empire. Benioff is teaching the corporate world how to marry social awareness with the pursuit of profits.
Tomorrow I’ll weigh in with a meatier take on one member of this group, the subject of a cover story in the latest issue of Fortune.
One tech-industry player who isn’t on the list is Andrew Ng, who resigned Wednesday from his role heading artificial intelligence efforts at Chinese search engine Baidu.
Ng is a Stanford professor, a Google Brain founder, and the co-founder of Coursera. He also was Fortune’s guest at a CES dinner in January, where he elaborated on his contention that every company needs a chief AI officer. He wrote a long piece on Medium about his departure, which didn’t once state why he’s leaving. Bloomberg quoted Ng saying he’d been discussing his departure with Baidu CEO Robin Li for several months. Had I known he was leaving, I’m sure I would have asked him why two-and-a-half months ago.
BITS AND BYTES
Microsoft gets in gear, wins over Toyota with connected car technology. The automaker is licensing the tech giant's patents for vehicle operating systems, Wi-Fi, motion sensors, voice recognition, navigation, and other applications. This is Microsoft's first such deal with a car company, but the two have been partnering in this area for some time. (Fortune)
Google loses big advertisers over offensive content. Telco giant AT&T and personal care products powerhouse Johnson & Johnson were the latest companies to halt campaigns on YouTube and other Google services amid controversy over whether the company removes hate speech or other extremist content quickly enough. (Fortune, New York Times)
Instagram has five times as many advertisers as it did a year ago. The Facebook-owned social network for photo sharing says that more than 1 million organizations are advertising actively every month. (Reuters)
AT&T workers briefly go on strike. Approximately 17,000 employees working for its traditional telephone business in California and Nevada walked off the job Wednesday, protesting work assignment changes. They returned the next day, but it was the worst labor action against the carrier in years and tensions are rising. (Fortune, Fortune)
Drone sales are poised to skyrocket. New government data suggests there will be about 3.6 million consumer and hobbyist models in the air by 2021, which is about triple the number that took flight last year. (Fortune)
Apple reassures customers over ransomware threat. A hacker group, calling its Turkish Crime Family, is threatening to delete log-in credentials for hundreds of millions of Apple email and iCloud accounts unless the company pays up. Apple says its systems haven't been compromised, but the threat could be connected to a past LinkedIn breach so accountholders might want to consider changing passwords preemptively. (Fortune)
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Tech employees overestimate how well their companies promote diversity. A recent survey shows that, like many other things in 2017, feelings about diversity don’t necessarily line up with the facts.
Among the 1,400 tech workers surveyed as part of a poll commissioned by software firm Atlassian, 83% think diversity in tech is important, but only half believe improvements need to be made at their own company. Another significant finding: Almost half of the respondents said they cared more about diversity after the U.S. election, and one in four reported that they changed their own workplace behavior as a result. More on the findings.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Advertising Startups Are in for a Rough 2017, by Erin Griffith
Recruiting Startup WayUp Wants to Be the Netflix for Jobs, by Valentina Zarya
Lyft Drivers Have Made $200 Million in Tips, by Kirsten Korosec
LinkedIn Editors Are Curating Trending News and Topics, by Barb Darrow
Verizon Wants to Turn Your Car Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot, by Aaron Pressman
ONE MORE THING
Move over, Evan Spiegel. Irish entrepreneur John Collison, co-founder of digital payments startup Stripe, is officially the world's youngest self-made billionaire—by about two months. (Money)