Skip to Content

Facebook Privacy, China Sorghum, Trump and TPP: CEO Daily for April 18, 2018

Good morning. Fortune digital editor Andrew Nusca here, filling in for Alan.

Adam Ludwin, the CEO of a San Francisco blockchain services company called Chain, captured the finance world’s attention in 2017 when he wrote an open letter to Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan Chase CEO had gone on a tirade about a certain well-known cryptocurrency—people who purchase Bitcoin are “stupid,” Dimon said at an industry conference, and governments will one day “crush” the stuff—and Ludwin was aghast. So he penned a 4,200-word explanation of what cryptocurrencies are and aren’t.

Cue the digital applause. Four months later (and one vow of silence broken), Dimon softened his stance.

But the movement to explain the value of Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, to the world marches on. On Tuesday evening, Ludwin appeared at a Fortune Brainstorm Tech dinner in San Francisco to do just that. “Cryptocurrency represents the new Internet counterculture,” he told Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, explaining how the decentralized nature of the asset class allows for “censorship resistance” and a radically different approach to building conventional software services. (Read our dispatch from the dinner here.)

Ludwin’s perspective is a far cry from the boom-bust price cycles that keep cryptocurrency in news headlines. But it is perhaps the most honest. As he describes it, cryptocurrency is a technology platform in search of a killer application—the opposite of what usually emerges from Silicon Valley. The best thing to do, then, is wait and see what society does with it. (And perhaps subscribe to The Ledger, Fortune’s forthcoming newsletter about the topic.) Because let’s be honest—no one knew quite what to do when the Internet was invented, either.

The news below.

Andrew Nusca
@editorialiste
andrew.nusca@fortune.com

Top News

Facebook Privacy

Facebook has revealed the new privacy settings that it will be rolling out, largely thanks to the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.) The settings give users a chance to tell the social network they want it to stop using as much of their data as before—but the way the interface is designed makes it clear that Facebook wants people to give it as many permissions as possible. Fortune

China vs. U.S.

China has hit out at U.S. sorghum producers, telling them they have to pay a temporary 178.6% deposit on the value of their imports into China. The anti-dumping mechanism comes in the context of a growing tit-for-tat trade spat/war between the two countries. Analysts say the deposit is so high that some U.S. producers might cancel their exports to China, which uses sorghum for animal feed and to make booze. BBC

Trump vs. TPP

President Trump has done another U-turn on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He withdrew the U.S. from the free trade deal, then asked advisors to look at a possible re-entry, but now he’s tweeted that the deal would be bad for the U.S., despite Japan and South Korea (which isn’t actually a signatory) wanting the U.S. to come back into the fold. CNBC

Merkel vs. Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to reform the eurozone quickly, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the idea of turning the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund without lengthy treaty-change negotiations. Merkel is wary of the Germans having to bail out their neighbors while losing control of the distribution process. She said the proposed (by the European Commission) EMF would have to be an intergovernmental institution, rather than being under the control of the Commission. Macron told the European Parliament yesterday that he is tired of big policy decisions being kicked “into the long grass.” Financial Times

Around the Water Cooler

Korean Discussions

South Korea’s government is to offer economic and political concessions to North Korea if the dictatorship freezes its missile program and allows nuclear inspections, according to reports. If the two Koreas can strike a deal, they might even sign a formal declaration of peace—the Korean War only ended in an armistice, back in 1953. South China Morning Post

Southwest Death

An Albuquerque, N.M. woman named Jennifer Riordan was killed yesterday when a Southwest Airlines jet engine exploded, smashing the window next to her. Fellow passengers pulled her back in after she was partially sucked out the windows due to the depressurization, but she died in a hospital after the plane made an emergency landing. Riordan worked for Wells Fargo. CNN

Tax Deadline

The Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for filing taxes to today, after a computer glitch meant the agency was unable to process many returns filed electronically yesterday. IRS officials did not disclose what the problem was, but it was certainly a big issue for the millions of people trying to get their returns filed on “the busiest tax day of the year.” Washington Post

Barbara Bush

Former First Lady and First Mother Barbara Bush has passed away at the age of 92. The cause of death has not been disclosed, but the family announced on Sunday that she would no longer seek medical treatment. Barbara Bush married the future President George H.W. Bush in 1945. She was First Lady from 1989 to 1993, and saw her son, George W., follow in his father’s footsteps from 2001 to 2009. Fortune

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