Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

12 Fabulous Fortune Reads From 2017

December 27, 2017, 2:00 PM UTC

President Donald Trump’s machinations, bitcoin’s stratospheric rise, and a renewed debate over race and gender were some of this year’s most discussed topics. And many of Fortune’s must-read articles of 2017 happened to focus on these hot-button issues.

Below, you’ll find stories about Trump’s push to defang environmental regulations, enraging his critics in the process. Other articles looked at bitcoin and the complications that come with the digital currency gaining so much value in so little time.

Additionally, Fortune published countless stories about the diversity and its many nuances. Included in this list are a female tech executive’s impassioned response to claims that women are ill-suited for tech careers and an essay arguing against banning books that include racist language. They’re both timely and important.

We’re very proud of the work that we produced in 2017, and we look forward to doing even more in 2018. Happy reading.


Hacking Coinbase: The Great Bitcoin Bank Robbery

Investing in bitcoin is uncertain enough considering its price swings and the risk of market collapse. People would be wise to consider another risk: theft. A growing legion of hackers are targeting bitcoin investors, with frequent success. The danger highlights the Wild West nature of bitcoin, the weakness of certain security measures for protecting it, and, unfortunately, hacker ingenuity.

As America's Opioid Crisis Spirals, Giant Drug Distributor McKesson Is Feeling the Pain

Richard Sallaz, a pharmacist at Crab Orchard Pharmacy in the West Virginia town of the same name, holds opioids (the white pills are oxycodone; the green, hydrocodone).

In recent years, drug companies and their distributors flooded small West Virginia towns with opioids to devastating effect. Huge numbers of people overdosed or became addicts, creating a health crisis in a state that is already among the poorest in the country. Fed up with the problem, state political leaders decided to sue pharmaceutical distributor McKesson, which they say have should have known that many of the millions of pain pills it shipped into the state were being misused. It's a heartbreaking story that shows how the opioid epidemic became such a huge problem despite ample warning signs.

What Art, Harper Lee and The N-Word Teach Us About Difficult Conversations

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Mary Badham as Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch and Phillip Alford as Jeremy 'Jem' Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

When the Biloxi School District in Mississippi decided to ban award-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird in the classroom because of the language in it made some people uncomfortable, it raised some serious questions: How should we best confront some of our nation's ugly history? And how can the arts play a role? Here's one persuasive argument for dealing with the past head on, even if it's uncomfortable.

Inside Elliott Management: How Paul Singer’s Hedge Fund Always Wins

Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management Corp.

If big investors are agitating against a company's board or management, chances are that Elliot Capital Management is involved. The huge hedge fund—it has $39 billion under management—is a well-known thorn in the side of corporate America that is also highly successful. In some cases, its tactics are extreme including using private investigators to tail and question children and neighbors of executives who are in the firm's crosshairs. No one ever said big investors had to play nice.

How the United States Looked Before the EPA

Burning discarded automobile batteries in Houston, Texas in 1972.

With the Trump administration making deregulation of environmental laws a focus, Fortune took a time machine back to the bad ole' days. That would be the 1970s, when Los Angeles was enveloped in a nasty smog cloud and the many of the nation's rivers were garbage dumps for tires, trash and chemical waste. The photo gallery from this bygone era is a stark reminder. .

What Happens to Cryptocurrency When You Die?

Bitcoin's value rose astronomically this year, turning many early investors into millionaires—at least on paper. But no one lives forever, and passing on bitcoin wealth to heirs requires taking some extra steps beyond what's necessary for the average portfolio of stocks and mutual funds. Failing to do so could mean that family and friends will never get any inherited bitcoins (or even know they exist). Here's what bitcoin owners should do right now to prepare for the inevitable.

Bolstered by Trump, Big Oil Resumes Its 40-Year Quest to Drill in an Arctic Wildlife Refuge

What's more important: Bear, caribou, and an untouched tundra? Or oil, jobs, and royalty payments to Alaskans? The Trump Administration has given new hope to supporters of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We visit the stark and beautiful landscape that is in the energy industry's crosshairs.

Satire: Tesla's Elon Musk Reveals the Next Big Automotive Trend: Gasoline

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

We at Fortune enjoy a good laugh. Don't believe it? Then read this satiric take on Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his, um, surprising prediction that has nothing to do with electric cars. You'll be glad you did.

A Grocery Store for All, Powered By Wasted Food

Marilyn Rush works at Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store in Dorchester, Mass., in April 2017.

The dirty secret with traditional grocery stores is that tons of perfectly good food is thrown out. Either stores have too much inventory or they are forced to toss products that are near their "sell by" or "best buy" dates. Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery in Dorchester, Mass., has turned this problem into a strategy by stocking its shelves with food that traditional stores don't want. The goal is to eliminate wasted food and make nutrition more affordable. Yes, you can buy a gallon of milk for the bargain basement price of less than $1. Bon appétit.

Read YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki's Response to the Controversial Google Anti-Diversity Memo

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

James Damore, a Google engineer, set off a firestorm across the tech industry by publishing a 10-page memo railing against diversity and what he described as the biological differences that make women less adept at tech jobs than men. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published a poignant response to Damore's retro ideology on Fortune. You'll want to read it.

The Black Ceiling: Why African-American Women Aren’t Making It to the Top in Corporate America

Ursula Burns, former chief executive officer of Xerox.

Ursula Burns' retirement as CEO of Xerox at the end of 2016 left a startling gap in the Fortune 500. Of all the companies, not one was now led by an African-American woman. This article explores the reasons and potential solutions for this glaring omission. For the record, Burns plans to devote some of her attention to fixing the problem.

Investors Are Wagering $12 Billion on This 72-Year-Old Railroad Savior

Harrison began working in rail yards at age 18 and still relishes touring terminals like this one near CSX headquarters in Jacksonville.

Modernizing a 19th century business like railroads is no easy feat. Hunter Harrison, CEO of rail giant CSX, was trying to pull it off on his fourth company (he died on Dec. 16, four months after this article's publication). Climb aboard for a look at the turnaround artist, the huge challenges he faced, and the serious questions about his health.