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Good morning from Chicago, where the first-ever Brainstorm Reinvent conference kicked off yesterday at the swanky Four Seasons hotel, a few sunny blocks from a sun-speckled Lake Michigan.
It was an exhilarating day of industrial America meets high technology meets leadership and teamwork maxims from some outstanding practitioners.
* Stanley McChrystal, the retired-four-star general and America’s preeminent warrior-philosopher-corporate leadership consultant, thinks the military should make lateral hires, including at its highest levels. He thinks corporate types would add a ton, just as officers glean valuable knowledge from their academic intermissions from active duty. Here’s a write-up of my interview with him, including his indirect (but clear) thoughts on Donald Trump’s leadership, as well as a video clip of our chat.
* Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW, or the corporation formerly known as Weight Watchers, is a no-nonsense, operationally focused, and clear-thinking executive who has overseen the company’s revival in the years since Oprah Winfrey bought a 10% stake. The key to reinvention, says Grossman, is to consider nothing sacred. If a product doesn’t serve the brand, she says, it’s gone. That’s why the company ditched 70% of its own food products. Read and watch more here.
* Peggy Johnson, the marathoner and former Qualcomm M&A executive, interviewed for a job at Microsoft mostly to “listen” and came away from her interview with CEO Satya Nadella convinced the software company was the place for her. She credits a “learn-it-all” rather than a “know-it-all” mindset for the cultural transformation of the once-proud and newly-revived Microsoft.
We have a full day ahead of us Tuesday, and you can follow the livestream, including my interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on Fortune.com.
Speaking of transformations, I highly recommend Beth Kowitt’s profile of Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna, charged with overseeing Walmart’s risky $16-billion investment in India’s Flipkart. It’s a tale of an insider of an acquired company rising to the top of her new organization—and being handed an extremely important assignment.
Bump in the road. Without warning, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to resign from the Facebook unit. “We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion,” Systrom wrote in a blog post. “We’re now ready for our next chapter.” Six months ago, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum left the company, as well. Facebook shares were down 2% in premarket trading on Tuesday.
Bump in the road, part two. When several of his peers testified on Capitol Hill earlier this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was criticized for ducking out. Now he’s agreed to appear at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, but only in November, after the upcoming midterm elections. Separately, Google added some new features to its search engine, including activity cards to track topics a user searches about repeatedly.
More is more. And while we’re on the topic of tech giants, Apple and Microsoft were both trying to make inroads in the enterprise market on Monday. Apple announced a partnership to bring more of Salesforce’s popular CRM software to iOS while including cutting edge iOS features like Siri Shortcuts and Face ID. Speaking at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in Orlando, CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a bevy of new cloud software features, including a login procedure that doesn’t rely on passwords.
Urban pushback. The Federal Communications Commission votes on new rules this week to make it easier (and cheaper) for telecom companies to put up new cell transmitters. Cities large and small aren’t impressed, Bloomberg reports. The FCC plan is “an unnecessary and unauthorized gift to the telecommunications industry and its lobbyists” and will “subsidize a trillion dollar industry under the guise of helping broadband deployment,” Samir Saini, New York City’s commissioner of information technology, said. But FCC chair Ajit Pai says rather his agency is “taking another critical step to promote U.S. leadership in 5G wireless services.”
There are no small parts. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is at it again, leading a $1 billion investment in Indian hotel booking startup OYO Hotels that values the company at $5 billion, or almost six times its value from a fundraising deal last year.
Going once, going twice. We reported last week that Uber was in talks to buy European food delivery service Deliveroo. Now comes word that Amazon may want to horn in on the action and acquire the startup for itself, according to a report in The Telegraph newspaper.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It’s been almost a decade since Congress passed the the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, known as HITECH, to push the healthcare industry to move to electronic records. And while that’s largely happened, the result has been a hodgepodge of closed and proprietary systems that often prevent doctors and other caregivers from accessing a new patient’s entire history. It’s like opening a book to page 200 and being asked to write page 201, doctor and writer Ilana Yurkiewicz explains in a lengthy and vividly described piece for Undark.
There are hundreds of different vendors using diverse technological platforms, each with a unique way to organize patient data. Finding a universal way to blend the systems has been a bureaucratic and engineering nightmare. Sometimes, the barriers are intentional, DeSalvo says, as vendors don’t necessarily want to make it easy to share data with hospitals using competitors’ systems and may charge them a fee to do so. Blocking also occurs because of a misunderstanding of patient privacy rights. As efforts to exchange data go public, some critics worry about security leaks.
The handwringing over privacy may not be necessary. According to Lucia Savage, a lawyer and the former chief privacy officer at the ONC, the same privacy rules apply no matter how patient files are shared—whether by handwritten notes, faxes, or electronic files. “Doctors, nurses, physician assistants—they have ethical rules,” she says. “They’re not supposed to be snooping around someone’s data because he’s Steve Jobs…We have to assume people act professionally and ethically in this space.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
New York’s Big Cryptocurrency Mistake By Jeff John Roberts
Why This 153-Year-Old Company Is Interested in Satellites and A.I. By Jonathan Vanian
Snapchat’s Latest Feature: Searching Amazon to Buy What Your Camera Sees By Kevin Kelleher
Artificial Intelligence Needs Empathy to Work By McKenna Moore
Bumble Steels Itself to Fight Match—and for an IPO By Emma Hinchliffe
BEFORE YOU GO
Nobel prize winner Charles Kuen Kao, who helped revolutionize communications with fiber optics, died over the weekend. Called the “Godfather of Broadband,” Koa’s research allowed scientists to create more clear fibers that could send information via pulses of light over long distances. The New York Times obituary lays out the story.