CEO Daily: Monday, 1st May
President Trump passed his 100 day mark this weekend, and reviews are pouring in, including his own. For business leaders, the new administration has turned out to be mostly a pleasant surprise: open to their entreaties, focused on growth, determined to reduce regulation and government excess—and far less focused on anti-trade, anti-immigration, and anti-big-business measures than might have been expected from campaign rhetoric.
Less clear, however, is whether this administration can successfully address the truly big issues facing American society: our broken health care system, the failing education system, or the swelling angst of a huge strata of citizens in danger of being left behind by a tidal wave of new business technologies. Underlying all of these is a badly broken political system, which seems more broken today than ever, incapable of putting aside partisan goals for the greater good.
That’s why, at Fortune, we’ve turned our attention to the power of the private sector to address some of society’s most challenging problems. We were heartened by the work of the 100 CEOs who gathered at the Vatican last December to deliberate on actions they could take to address pressing social problems. Today, it’s clear, a growing number of enlightened CEOs understand that the purpose of business has to extend beyond making profits for shareholders. Their employees, their customers, and the public at large are demanding more of them. And they are rising to the challenge.
To encourage that trend, Fortune and Time are partnering to create The CEO Initiative—which will convene business leaders to exchange best practices and leadership techniques, develop solutions, track tangible results, and shine a spotlight on those making progress in addressing important social goals. This isn’t intended to be an exercise in charity or traditional corporate social responsibility. Rather, it is designed for businesses that want to put a broader purpose at the core of their profit-making activities.
The CEO Initiative will hold its first meeting in New York on September 25. Salesforce has signed on as Founding Partner. Allstate also will be a sponsor. Among the participants will be members of our steering committee, including Tom Wilson of Allstate, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Joe Kaesar of Siemens, Dom Barton of McKinsey, Hugh Grant of Monsanto, Carlos Gomes da Silva of Galp Energia, Erik Fyrwald of Syngenta, Dan Schulman of Paypal, Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss, Marc Lautenbach of Pitney Bowes, Greg Becker of Silicon Valley Bank, Dan Glaser of Marsh & McLennan, Roger Crandall of MassMutual and and Tom Quinlan of LSC Communications.
You will be hearing more about this initiative in the months ahead, and about Fortune’s related Change the World list for 2017. This one is important; the future of capitalism—and the world—is at stake.
More news below.
• New Spending Deal Would Fund Government Through September
Congressional leaders reportedly hammered out a bipartisan deal on Sunday that would continue funding the government through September 30. The deal would still need to be approved by the House of Representatives and Senate before time runs out on the latest stopgap bill at the end of the coming week, which would trigger the first government shutdown in four years. The omnibus spending package lays out $1 trillion in spending plans for the current fiscal year. The bill includes increased spending on defense, a priority for the Trump administration, but also multiple items pushed for by Democrats, such as a $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health and a stipulation that none of the budgeted money be used to start work on the U.S.-Mexico border wall that was a major talking point of President Trump's campaign. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
• Trump Confident in Obamacare Replacement, Vague on North Korea
In an interview on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday morning, President Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "a smart cookie" while leaving the door open for possible U.S. military action against North Korea."I don't know. I mean, we'll see," Trump said when asked about the possibility of military action in the wake of North Korea's latest missile tests. In the interview, Trump also expressed his confidence that Congress can quickly pass legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Trump later tweeted that a new health care plan is "on its way" after Republicans' first attempt at replacing Obamacare failed to garner enough support to get a vote in Congress earlier this year. Fully repealing and replacing Obamacare was one of the items that President Trump had said he hoped to accomplish during the first 100 days of his administration—a milestone that passed over the weekend. Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Vice President Mike Pence would only commit to replacing Obamacare by the end of the year. Fortune
• Trump Floats Idea of China Hacking During Election
In the same interview on Sunday, Trump brought up the possibility that China might have been responsible for hacking the emails of the Democratic officials during the 2016 election. "[It] could have been China, could have been a lot of different groups," the president said, citing no evidence to support the statement. At least 17 separate federal intelligence agencies have said that the Russian government was behind the hacking. "I'll go along with Russia," Trump said in the interview, though the president also insisted that it can be very difficult to definitively identify the source of such a cyber attack. Reuters
• 21st Century Fox in Talks to Buy Tribune Media
Media and entertainment giant 21st Century Fox is reportedly having discussions with the investment firm Blackstone Group about teaming up to buy Tribune Media, the broadcasting company that owns more than 40 television stations across the U.S. Fox and Blackstone have not yet launched an offer, though they are reportedly looking to stave off a rival bid for Tribune Media by the country's largest TV station operator, Sinclair Broadcast Group. The uptick in interest in Tribune Media, which spun off its newspaper publishing arm in 2014, comes after the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to ease regulations that place limits on TV station ownership in the U.S. The New York Times
Around the Water Cooler
• Taboola and Outbrain On Path for a Link-Up?
Taboola and Outbrain, two companies most associated with the recommended links and sponsored stories often found on online news sites, are reportedly considering a merger. The two rival content recommendation companies are reportedly in advanced talks but have not yet reached a final agreement. The last sticking point appears to be how the two companies will split up their assets. That was also the obstacle that ultimately squashed a potential merger of the two companies in 2015. While Taboola and Outbrain previously failed to bring a merger to fruition, the two rivals are facing increased competition for digital advertising dollars from larger companies like Facebook and Google, which could make a combination that much more attractive. Fortune
• Musk Teases Future with First Tesla Semi Images
Elon Musk finally offered the first look at Tesla's much-anticipated electric semi trucks, which won't be fully unveiled until September. At a TED event in Vancouver on Friday, the Tesla CEO teased the first public images of the electric semi, which Musk described as a "spry" vehicle. The forthcoming line of semi trucks is part of Tesla's "Master Plan" that is focused on turning out larger electric vehicles that can be used for transporting cargo. Musk also used the TED event to confirm Tesla's plans to announce the locations of four new Gigafactory battery plants sometime this year. Fortune
• Twitter Partners with Bloomberg on 24-Hour News
As Twitter fights for a larger share of video advertising money, the social platform has signed on its first partner in a push to stream television 24-hours per day. Twitter and Bloomberg are set to announce their new partnership on Monday, with the finance-focused media outlet planning to launch a service that will churn out news to stream via Twitter all day, seven days a week. The streaming news channel will not rely on repurposed footage from Bloomberg's television network, but will instead feature live news coverage from the media company's global bureaus. The partnership is part of Twitter's push for around-the-clock streaming television and it follows the company's recent loss of streaming rights for NFL games to Amazon for the upcoming football season. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
• Analysts Dreaming of a $100 Billion Buffett Deal?
Despite an absence of evidence that billionaire Warren Buffett and his investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway, are seeking a monumental deal, various analysts and fans of the "Oracle of Omaha" are still dreaming of something big from Buffett. Bloomberg points to Buffett's eye-popping collection of cash on hand—over $86 billion, and counting—as the reason why analysts are holding their collective breath. Could a high-profile takeover worth more than $100 billion be in the cards for Buffett and Berkshire? That would almost triple the size of the investor's previous record, the $34 billion purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in 2010, but that's still a lot of cash to be sitting on without making a big move. What companies could entice Buffett to make such a huge play? Bloomberg floats large consumer brands such as Nike and Costco as potential targets that could whet Buffett's appetite. We'll have to wait and see. Bloomberg
Summaries by Tom Huddleston, Jr.; email@example.com @tjhuddle