Brexit Chaos, Global Slowdown, Bitcoin Bumble: CEO Daily for November 15, 2018
We’ve got a surprise for you. Our annual Businessperson of the Year isn’t a tech hero—like Jensen Huang last year, or Mark Zuckerberg the year before, or Larry Page in 2014, or Elon Musk in 2013, or Jeff Bezos in 2012. Instead, it’s a former insurance claims rep— Progressive Insurance CEO Tricia Griffith—whose company is a healthy 81 years old.
And if you have any question about why she got the honor, take a look at her numbers. (The Businessperson of the Year list is always rooted in metrics.) Her one-year and three-year sales growth (20.2% and 11.4%) tops both Apple and Microsoft. The company’s net premiums hit $30 billion at the end of the third quarter, after reaching $20 billion just three years ago. Its stock is up 50% in the past 12 months, and its profits have doubled.
How did she do it? Read Aric Jenkins’s story, available this morning here. She’s built a culture at this insurance company that’s both inclusive and inspiring, with a kind of startup vibe that includes hackathons and a team-building approach that makes her as approachable among the staff as Progressive’s TV ad star, “Flo,” is to the rest of us. And her employees love it: the company made its first appearance in Fortune’s Best Places to Work list this year.
Here are the runners up for this year’s honor.
2. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger
3. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang
4. Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass
5. Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted
6. AMD CEO Lisa Su
7. Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger
8. Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault
9. Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon
10. Illumina CEO Francis DeSouza
You can find 11-20 here. And by the way, it’s great to see four women among this year’s top ten performers—and six among the top twenty. That’s pretty good considering there are only 24 female CEOs in the Fortune 500.
More news below.
British Prime Minister Theresa May emerged from yesterday's crunch meeting with her cabinet touting collective agreement over her Brexit deal with the EU. But no. This morning two senior ministers—most importantly Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab—resigned in protest at the agreement's implications for Northern Ireland (the province would essentially have different rules from the rest of the U.K., in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.) Sterling plunged on the Raab news. Fortune
Trade battles are hurting the global economy, which has hit a soft patch. Economic output in both Germany and Japan contracted in the last quarter, and consumer spending is slowing in China. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the slowdown is "not…terrible" but "concerning" nonetheless. In the U.S., consumer spending is strong, but exports are falling. Wall Street Journal
Bitcoin has fallen by more than 12% over the last day. It is now well below the mid-$6,000s mark where it had been hovering for months—at the time of writing, one bitcoin is worth $5,550 and its market cap has fallen below $100 billion for the first time in over a year. According to CoinMarketCap, the market cap for the whole cryptocurrency scene is currently just above $185 billion. CNBC
Uber, which is preparing for its IPO, lost a whopping $1.07 billion in Q3. That's 27% less than it lost in the same period last year, but revenues and bookings weren't up by very much. CFO Nelson Chai: "We had another strong quarter for a business of our size and global scope." BBC
Around the Water Cooler
Beyoncé has bought out the stake held by scandal-struck British tycoon Philip Green in their Ivy Park gymwear venture. Beyoncé's Parkwood vehicle now owns 100% of the brand, after discussions "of almost a year" that were no doubt intensified by recent allegations of Green's racial abuse and sexual harassment. Financial terms of the buyout have not been disclosed. Financial Times
The New York Times has a blockbuster exposé of the boardroom squabbles that took place at Facebook last year, when the spotlight was on the company over Russian election meddling. The piece focuses on Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, claiming they "ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view" as they focused on growth over privacy. The article also accuses Sandberg of smearing Facebook's critics by casting them as anti-Semitic. NYT
Oracle's claim that the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud contract procurement process is tilted toward rival Amazon has fallen on deaf ears. The U.S. Government Accountability Office said there was nothing wrong with the Pentagon's decision to go with a single-source contract, as this approach "is in the government’s best interests for various reasons, including national security concerns, as the statute allows." Fox Business
Chinese tech giant Huawei already has a voice assistant back home that does what Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant do, but now it's planning to release an international effort. "We need more time to build our AI services," Huawei consumer chief Richard Yu told CNBC. "Later we will expand this outside of China." CNBC