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CEOs v. Border Separations, Dow Boots GE, Starbucks Closings: CEO Daily for June 20, 2018

Good morning.

The business community yesterday found itself once again in a public fight with President Trump.

The latest trigger (as if a trade war weren’t sufficient) was the escalating controversy over the administration’s “zero tolerance” position on illegal border crossings, which has led nearly 2,000 children to be separated from their parents at the border. The political brouhaha engulfed Microsoft when a blog post resurfaced from January in which the company said it was “proud” of its work with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to help “utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.” That prompted a storm of social media outrage, which in turn led to a statement from Microsoft saying it was “dismayed” by the administration’s action on family separation. “As a company, Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents.”

Then the Business Roundtable stepped in, issuing a statement urging “the Administration to end immediately the policy of separating accompanied minors from their parents. This practice is cruel and contrary to American values.”

The statement was the work of Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, who chairs the group’s immigration committee. I spoke to Robbins last night, and asked him why he felt compelled to go public against the president on this one—not an easy move for a company whose customers include the government, or for a group whose members span the political spectrum. “Our immigration system is broken, and we need leaders to address the major issues,” he said. The family separation issue, in particular, “is a moral issue for our country.”

I asked Robbins if he was hearing a lot from his employees on this issue. “I hear a lot from my employees on everything. If it is purely political and it’s just your belief versus someone else’s, everybody knows I’m not going to get in the middle of it… But this is a fundamental issue that doesn’t represent the values of the entire company.”

Robbins discussed the statement with Business Roundtable Chair Jamie Dimon and President Joshua Bolten, and shared it with many other members of the group, before its release. He said there was no dissent. Moreover, no Roundtable members “have reached out to me and said we shouldn’t have done this.”

More news below.

Alan Murray

Top News

Dow-n and Out

General Electric will next week drop out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average after more than a century. The fall-off is a milestone in the decline of the firm that was once a pillar of the U.S. economy. It will be replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance. If you’re still asking what the hell happened at GE, Fortune‘s Geoff Colvin has your answer. Wall Street Journal

Too Much Coffee

Starbucks is going to close 150 poorly performing company-operated locations in 2019, about three times as many as it usually shutters. Those affected are mostly in urban areas where there are a lot of Starbucks stores. CNNMoney

CVS Seeks a Cure

CVS Health announced yesterday that it’s launching delivery of prescription drugs and other medications across the country. The move comes as CVS looks to retain customers as Amazon reportedly eyes the drug prescription market. It also comes as CVS struggles with declining sales of general merchandise and shopper visits at its drugstores. Fortune

Canada Lights Up

Canada’s Senate yesterday passed legislation that will make it the first country with a major economy to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Once it’s officially approved—the governor general, Queen Elizabeth’s representative, will sign off as a formality—the new law is expected to ignite a multibillion dollar industry as Canada joins Uruguay in allowing citizens on a national level to use marijuana without fear of arrest. New York Times

Around the Water Cooler


A new report on Americans’ savings offers this good news: The number of Americans who say they have no money readily available fell to a seven-year low. Now the bad news: that share still stands at 23%, meaning nearly one in four Americans have no emergency savings. Bloomberg

Eat Up

The list of the world’s best restaurants is out, and the No. 1 spot was awarded to Osteria Francescana, a restaurant in Modena, Italy. It’s the second time the restaurant, led by Chef Massimo Bottura, has topped the ranking. Reuters

Ripe for the Picking

James Rogers, CEO and founder of Apeel Sciences, has been developing technology to extend produce shelf life since 2012. Now, Apeel’s avocados are heading to Costco; they’ll be coated with Apeel’s imperceptible layer that slows down the rate of spoilage. Apeel’s avocados will be priced the same as their conventional counterparts because they may reduce the amount of product that goes bad; food waste, by some estimates, costs retailers $18 billion a year. Fortune

Happy 10M!

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued the 10 millionth utility patent using its current numbering system, which dates back to 1836. No. 10,000,000 went to Joseph Marron and Raytheon, for “Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection,” which is, of course, a method of bouncing lasers off of targets to figure out their range and velocity. It took 155 years to issue the first 5 million patents. It took just 27 years to issue the next 5 million. The Verge


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