Sorrell Out, Shire Slims, Data Monopolies: CEO Daily for April 16, 2018

April 16, 2018, 10:56 AM UTC

Good morning.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took a star turn on 60 Minutes last night–right after the show’s takedown of Allegiant Air (bottom line: don’t fly it.) Benioff’s topic was gender pay inequality. He told Leslie Stahl how he refused to believe at first that Salesforce had a pay equity problem. “I really felt there is no way this is true. Not possible. We don’t do that kind of thing.” But an internal audit found there was a persistent gap between women and men doing the same job. The company went through its entire 30,000 person work force to eliminate the gap. The cost: about $3 million, with about 10% of women getting a higher pay check.

Benioff says the problem isn’t unique to Salesforce. “I think it is happening everywhere. There is a cultural phenomena where women are paid less than men.” CEOs, he says, can fix that with the push of a button. “There’s no excuse. We have the data.”

Separately, Mastercard will announce later this morning that Michael Froman–the former U.S. Trade Rep. who tirelessly pursued trade agreements between 2013 and 2017 when political support for them was heading south–is joining the company as vice chairman and president of strategic growth, working with CEO Ajay Banga. Among other things, Froman will work with governments around the world on strategic projects ranging from South Africa’s welfare benefits distribution system to touchless payments on the London tube. He also will “drive the company’s financial inclusion and inclusive growth agendas.” We’re hoping to lure him to join us at the CEO Initiative in San Francisco June 25 and 26. Still looking for a few other CEOs who care about the social impact of business to join as well; let me know if you are interested.

More news below.

Top News

Sorrell Out

Martin Sorrell has suddenly resigned as CEO of ad giant WPP following an investigation into his conduct. According to reports, he never signed a non-compete agreement with the company (he was its boss for 33 years) and is therefore free to start a new advertising venture anytime he liked. WPP's shares fell 5% this morning before recovering slightly. Financial Times

Shire Slims

The London-listed pharma firm Shire is selling its cancer drug business to France's Servier for $2.4 billion. Japan's Takeda is currently eyeing Shire as a potential takeover target; its oncology business had been a big draw. Shire said it may return proceeds from the sale to its shareholders through a buyback. It also said it might offload more non-strategic assets. Reuters

Data Monopolies

A committee in the U.K.'s House of Lords has called on regulators to review the "potential monopolization of data" by big U.S. tech firms in Britain. The call comes as part of a report that drew on evidence from 223 witnesses. "While we welcome the investments made by large overseas technology companies in the U.K. economy, and the benefits they bring, the increasing consolidation of power and influence by a select few risks damaging the continuation, and development, of the U.K.'s thriving home-grown AI start-up sector," the report read. CNBC

FANG Split

Some fund managers are turning their backs on Facebook, leading to a split in the generally lumped-together FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google/Alphabet) group. "There may be some greater differences among the FANG stocks than in the past," T. Rowe Price Group's chief investment officer, Rob Sharps, said. "I'm not sure [Facebook shares] have come down enough to reflect that risk" of its data-handling practices, said Brad Slingerlend of the Janus Henderson Global Technology Fund. Wall Street Journal

Around the Water Cooler

M&A Confidence

EY will today release a new "Capital Confidence Barometer" report, showing that dealmaking optimism in the U.S. has risen sharply. According to the Big Four accounting firm's study, 61% of C-level executives expect their M&A pipeline to increase over the next year. That's a threefold increase from last year. Meanwhile, 96% of those surveyed think economic conditions are stable or improving.

Xi Not For Life

When the Chinese government recently amended the constitution to remove the two-term limit on presidencies, did that really mean President Xi is going to hang around for life, Mao-style? Pretty much everyone took the move as meaning just that, but Xi has now claimed he is "personally opposed" to life-long rule, and the term-limit removal was more about aligning the post of presidency with that of top posts in the Communist Party, which Xi also holds, and which don't come with term limits. Financial Times

Starbucks Protest

Sunday saw protests outside a Philadelphia Starbucks after two black men were arrested there for allegedly refusing to leave. The men said they were waiting for a friend, but an employee called 911 and they were handcuffed and removed from the store. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized for the incident and promised to retrain staff, but the protests are apparently set to resume today. NBC News

Comey on Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey does not hope for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, he said in an interview, despite his book calling Trump "morally unfit" for his post. "I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly," said Comey. Trump and the White House, meanwhile, have attacked Comey as a "slimeball" and "a liar," respectively. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.

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