Volatility Weariness, Facebook Medical Data, GE and KPMG: CEO Daily for April 6, 2018
The fastest growing job in America is… data scientist, according to LinkedIn. The profession has grown 6.5 times since 2012–which is when the Harvard Business Review first branded it “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” It also happens to be one of the best paying jobs, with a median salary of $113,000–which I guess is part of what makes it sexy.
That should be no surprise, to anyone paying attention to what’s happening in the corporate world. For the last couple of years, companies have been told that data is the new gold, and that machine learning applied to that data will transform their business. And yet studies by folks like the McKinsey Global Institute suggest that still only a tiny fraction of that corporate data–maybe no more than 1%–is being turned into useful intelligence. What to do? Hire a data scientist!
By the way, LinkedIn data released yesterday also suggests U.S. hiring activity in March was up a whopping 19% from March a year ago, and up 3% from February. The sectors showing big increases include financial services, insurance, aerospace, automotive, and transportation. LinkedIn calculates that hiring rate by looking at members who change the name of their employers on their LinkedIn profiles. The Labor Department’s take on March employment, which may be more reliable (although I’m no data scientist), is due out this morning.
And some Friday feedback:
DS asks if the Deloitte survey saying CFOs plan to invest their tax windfalls, rather than return the money to shareholders, might reflect “survey bias”–with CFOs saying that because they believe it is the “right answer.” That’s always possible.
And KM accuses me of a “disrespectful attitude” for suggesting the president’s Amazon tweets can’t be counted on for factual accuracy. That wasn’t intended to be a political or policy statement, KM. It’s just an irrefutable conclusion, based on the record of the past year.
More news below.
“It’s Becoming Childish”
After President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports, analysts are getting fed up. “It’s becoming childish. At some point investors will say enough is enough, there’s just too much political volatility now,” said AMP Capital Investors’ Nader Naeimi. “I get up everyday to write my note and it turns completely in opposite direction. I am getting up more often than not at 3 a.m.,” complained Oanda’s Stephen Innes. Trump’s latest move has futures predicting a 350 point drop on Friday’s open. Bloomberg
Facebook Medical Data
Facebook has unsurprisingly decided that now is not a great time to start sharing data with health organizations, pressing pause on a plan to do just that with the likes of Stanford Medical School. The plan, largely focused on combating heart disease, would have matched patient data with social networking data, to find indicators that could improve care. But with Facebook’s executives engaging in a torrent of apologies following revelations over the company’s data-sharing laxity, the timing could scarcely have been worse. Fortune
GE and KPMG
General Electric has retained KPMG as its auditor for the last 109 years, but proxy advisors ISS and Glass Lewis want shareholders to vote against maintaining the relationship. GE’s accounting practices are currently under the spotlight, after the company earlier this year disclosed the need to put $15 billion into reserves over the next seven years. Glass Lewis said it doesn’t support a company’s auditor choice when “we believe the auditor’s independence or audit integrity has been compromised.” Wall Street Journal
Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been jailed for 24 years for abuse of power and corruption. She and her Rasputin-esque confidante, Choi Soon-sil—seriously, their back-story is thoroughly bizarre—solicited bribes from companies such as Samsung and Lotte. Choi was jailed for 20 years in February; the heads of both those companies received shorter sentences. Guardian
Around the Water Cooler
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is under fire over a range of allegations, covering issues such as his first-class travel, the big raises he gave to two employees, and his rental lease with a lobbyist. President Trump has repeatedly said he has full confidence in Pruitt, but is reportedly less supportive in private. “When he’s not pleased, you’ll know it,” a White House spokesman told reporters, regarding employees serving at Trump’s pleasure. Washington Post
CNBC has a profile of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, which has an increasing amount of sway over the global tech scene. With SoftBank having invested in everything from e-commerce and ride-hailing to robotics and semiconductors, this is a good primer on one of the most important companies operating behind the scenes these days. CNBC
Swiss authorities have failed in their attempt to have whistleblower Hervé Falciani detained in Spain. Falciani was given a five-year sentence in Switzerland a few years back, for leaking customers’ data in an attempt to expose tax evasion. A French citizen, he avoided jail by fleeing to France, which rarely extradites its own citizens. But he was arrested while traveling in Spain for a whistleblowers’ conference. The authorities there are considering his extradition, but won’t keep him in jail while they mull it over. BBC
Virgin Galactic has successfully taken its VSS Unit spacecraft for a supersonic, rocket-powered test flight. The company said the flight gave it “valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance” and took it into a new phase of “powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns.” You can see a pretty cool video of the test here: Virgin Galactic / YouTube