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Meg Whitman’s Next Move, Margo Georgiadis’s Plans for Mattel, the Taylor Swift Economy

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift
Taylor SwiftPhotograph by Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We meet the woman taking the toy industry high-tech, black women are closing the gender ambition gap, and Meg Whitman is not CEO of Uber—so what now? Enjoy your weekend.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• What’s up with Whitman? Today’s lead story comes to you from my Fortune colleague Jen Wieczner, who profiles HPE chief Meg Whitman in our forthcoming MPW issue. Jen writes:

On this day six years ago, Meg Whitman became CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And nearly two years ago, she split that company in half. Now, everyone wants to know: What will Whitman—No. 7 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list—do next? The HPE chief opens up about her ambitions in this profile—even letting me interview her in her bathing suit (Whitman starts most days with a swim workout).

After being in the running for Travis Kalanick’s job at Uber, Whitman acknowledges why some thought she was the perfect candidate: “I have marketplace experience, I have political experience, I have big complex experience, and I’ve changed cultures. Right? So, there’s sort of a natural, like, ‘Wow, Meg would be great.‘”

That’s why some believe the former eBay CEO—Whitman is the only woman to have run more than one Fortune 500 company—could be ready for an even bigger stage. Though the lifelong Republican ran for California governor and lost in 2010, she surprised her supporters last year when she defected to the Clinton campaign. Whitman says she saw herself in Hillary, fellow members of “the same generation of women who were pioneering.” She also has some choice words for President Trump and for her CEO peers who have been reticent on key political issues. It’s enough for one of Whitman’s longtime allies to make this bold prediction: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Meg ended up the first female President.” Fortune

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Child’s play. Fortune‘s Michal Lev-Ram reports on former Google exec Margo Georgiadis’s attempt to inject some of the “data-driven, fast-moving, and relatively unhierarchical” culture of the technology industry into the 72-year-old toy maker. Georgiadis, who became Mattel’s CEO in February (and is No. 49 on our new MPW list) must now woo a new tech-savvy generation—without losing the timeless charm that’s kept kids coming back to its toys for decades. Fortune

• 25% committed to their message. After KB Home CEO Jeffrey Mezger’s profane and sexist rant at Kathy Griffin and her boyfriend was captured on camera, the homebuilder says it will cut the executive’s year-end bonus by 25%. The move strikes me as an odd choice. The New York Times reports that Mezger earned nearly $9 million last year, making him the fifth-highest paid chief executive among publicly traded homebuilding companies in the U.S. If the company chooses not to punish Mezger for his behavior, that’s its choice. But if it does want to send a message, just keeping a chunk of his bonus is not going to do the trick. New York Times

• Thinking not-big-enough. A new study from Korn Ferry and the Rockefeller Foundation digs into some of the factors behind the CEO gender gap, using interviews with 57 current and former female CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies. Strikingly, the researchers found that 65% of the women surveyed said they’d never thought about being a CEO until someone else told them they had that potential. And just 9% of the women said they’d always wanted to be CEO. Fortune

• No ambition gap here! Compare the results of that CEO study with a new report from Nielsen that explores the consumer behavior of black women. Among other fascinating findings, the report reveals an impressively ambitious demographic: 64% of black women agree their goal is to make it to the top of their profession—that’s 95% higher than non-Hispanic white women.  Fortune

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• In their bags. Among the questions we asked this year’s crop of Fortune Most Powerful Women: What item do you always have with you? While some of the responses were fairly predictable (cell phone was the most common answer), others were refreshing in their practicality (dental floss!) or touchingly sentimental. Read the highlights here: Fortune

• Lady of L’Oreal. Liliane Bettencourt, the French heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune, died Wednesday at age 94. Bettencourt, who was worth roughly $45 billion, helped grow the company into the powerhouse it is today. This obit tells the story of her “family feud that exploded into a financial and political scandal involving former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.” Washington Post

• The Taylor economy. Taylor Swift isn’t the only one who makes buckets of money from her music. This story explains how Facebook, UPS, Target and other corporations will land a big payday when her new album, Reputation, drops this November. Fortune

• Semper fi. The Marine Corps is poised to get its first-ever female infantry officer. The student in question is expected to graduate from the service’s grueling Infantry Officer Course on Monday. The Washington Post reports that the infantry course is “widely seen as some of the toughest training in the military, with about 25 percent of all students washing out.” Washington Post

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ON MY RADAR

What your co-worker’s whimsical socks are trying to tell you: a guide  Fortune

Melania Trump’s anti-bullying speech at the UN prompts cries of irony  Fortune

The 30 best female-led horror films of all time  Vulture

This university has produced the most powerful women  Fortune

QUOTE

Meg does not like to lose, trust me; she does not like to lose.
Antonio Neri, HPE president, speaking about Meg Whitman