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Call for Jeff Bezos to Join Giving Pledge Causes a Stir: CEO Daily

May 31, 2019, 10:10 AM UTC

Good morning.

It’s Friday, so time for feedback. Lots of reaction to my suggestion that Jeff Bezos should sign the “Giving Pledge.” Among the responses:

“Wanting to take you to task a little for the criticisms of Jeff’s philanthropy. He has much life yet to live and who knows what he will do with his wealth…To MacKenzie Bezos I say thank you and bravo.” — DW

“Is it worthwhile considering that the best charity Jeff could do is what he’s doing, i.e. funding space infrastructure which is likely going to cost a large chunk of what he has left/will make. He’s effectively helping humanity pave the way to space and new (better??) ways of solving overpopulation, pollution and cracking a potential meteor problem—amongst other things.” — MS

“Perhaps during his lifetime, Jeff can do more with his money and power to benefit mankind than he could accomplish by putting billions of dollars into the hands of charities. He is young and active and can make his own decisions.” — VC

And then there was KI, who simply responded: “Please delete all my subscriptions to your newsletters.”

Okay, I take the point. Or rather three points. 1) It is his money. 2) Much charity is wasted. And 3) For-profit investment can have a powerful positive impact on society. All true. But the Gates Foundation still stands as a worthy example of the power of philanthropy. And in an era when a rising chorus on the left is arguing ultra-wealth should be taxed away, more examples like Gates would make a stronger counter argument. After all, who will argue the federal government would make better use of those billions than the Gates Foundation?

I’ll be in London on Monday for the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit. Among the prominent women attending: Manolo Blahnik CEO Kristina Blahnik, CEO Gillian Tans, and Softbank Vision Fund Venture Partner Kirthiga Reddy. I’ll be interviewing iTV CEO Carolyn McCall.

More news below.

Alan Murray

Top News

Tariff Man

President Donald Trump has found a new tariff target: goods from Mexico. He announced a 5% tariff on all goods from the U.S.'s southern neighbor starting on June 10 in an effort to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border. Stocks and bond yields fell around the world this morning following the news. Wall Street Journal

Survival mode

Mark Zuckerberg will live to see another day as Facebook chairman. A shareholder vote to curtail his power failed yesterday. Critics of Zuck had called for more independent oversight of the company given Facebook's recent track record of privacy mishaps and the spread of disinformation. Fortune

An Uber Loss

In its first earnings report as a public company, Uber posted losses of $1 billion on revenue of $3.1 billion for the first quarter of 2019. Its core business of ride-hailing is growing slower than other segments. Uber Eats, for instance, saw revenue skyrocket 89% as its gross bookings grew 108%. Techcrunch

North Korea Executions

Several top officials and negotiators from North Korea were executed or sentenced to physical labor following February's summit between the U.S. and North Korea in Vietnam, according to reports coming out of South Korea. Information attributed to an anonymous source said the country's special envoy to the U.S. has been executed by firing squad, on spying charges, after the summit didn't succeed in reducing economic sanctions on one of the world's most isolated countries. New York Times

Around the Water Cooler

History Repeated

Remember the Greek Debt Crisis? Of course you do. A repeat of that sort of mess is emerging in Italy, where the country's de facto populist leader Matteo Salvini is asserting Italy’s right to spend freely even though, like any eurozone member, it doesn’t have the right to print money to pay its debts. Fortune

Narendra and Nirmala

Newly re-elected India Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise pick for a prominent cabinet post. Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed finance minister; she'll be the first woman to hold the job in five decades and will inherit an economy facing weak domestic consumption and waning global demand amid the U.S.-China trade war. Financial Times

Merkel's Message 

It's graduation season, and while German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn't vow to pay off student loans in her commencement speech at Harvard on Thursday, she did cause a stir by taking not-so-subtle aim at Trump in urging the Class of 2019 to "tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness." Politico

A Win for Dad

JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $5 million to settle a discrimination claim filed by a male employee who argued the bank's parental leave policy was biased against dads. He was denied the bank's 16-week parental leave, and offered two weeks of leave instead, on the grounds he was not a primary caregiver. The settlement, Bloomberg reports, is "the most high-profile warning to companies with policies that are gender-neutral on paper but not in practice." Bloomberg

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