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Who Definitely Isn’t Businessperson of the Year?

November 11, 2019, 9:37 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year will be unveiled next week. I can’t tell you who it is (although your guesses are welcome.) But I can tell you who it isn’t: Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg won the honor in 2016. But after a decade of blitzscaling, he has blitzsunk. He’s been blamed, with some justification, for destroying media, corrupting politics, invading privacy, abusing data, and inciting hatred in places as far flung as Myanmar. Bipartisan hostility against the social network has reached a peak, as this AP story reported last week. And even on his home turf of Silicon Valley, the Facebook founder is the only person “who is consistently persona non grata, no matter whom you ask,” according to this Vanity Fair piece. While Facebook share prices continue to soar, Zuckerberg’s reputation is best measured in Libra.

Could that change? The best model for tech rehabilitation is Bill Gates, who stepped away from his company altogether and devoted himself to charity. No sign yet of Zuckerberg following that path.

Also next week, Fortune convenes the annual Fortune Global Forum in Paris. It’s been a defining year for business, with new technologies threatening a tidal wave of business model disruption, and a new focus on corporate purpose reaching a tipping point. We will be exploring it all with CEOs including Alex Gorsky of J&J, Jean-Paul Agon of L’Oréal, Bernard Charlès of Dassault, Tiger Tyagarajan of Genpact, Ken Hu of Huawei, Kevin Sneader of McKinsey, David Abney of UPS, Vas Narasimhan of Novartis, Chairwoman Sophie Bellon of Sodexo, Mark Schneider of Nestlé, Paul Hudson of Sanofi, Julie Sweet of Accenture, Pierre-André de Chalendar of Saint-Gobain, and many more.

Not attending: Boeing’s Dennis Muilenberg, who canceled last minute due to “commitments.” Muilenberg clearly has his hands full, struggling to get the Boeing 737 Max back in the air, and to keep his career from being grounded.

Finally, a sad note this Monday morning. One of my favorite CEOs, Kaiser Permanente’s Bernard Tyson, died unexpectedly over the weekend. Clifton Leaf, the editor-in-chief of Fortune, has written a beautiful tribute here.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Singles Day

Alibaba's Singles Day—the biggest shopping event in the world—apparently saw over $16.3 billion in purchases take place in a mere 90 minutes. That's more than half the total takings for last year's Singles Day. Bloomberg

Bolivia Shift

Bolivian President Evo Morales has resigned after international auditors found "serious irregularities" in the election that last month returned him to office. Three people died in protests against the result, and the crunch came yesterday when the head of the Bolivian armed forces asked the left-wing president to step down. Morales said he was resigning for the good of the country, but also called it a coup. CNN

Khosrowshahi's "Mistake"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an Axios interview that he thought the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a "mistake" by the Saudi government, which happens to be Uber's fifth-biggest shareholder. He also compared it to the accidental killing of a pedestrian by an Uber self-driving vehicle (which, it emerged last week, was not programmed to recognize jaywalkers.) Then he phoned Axios to say he misspoke and "When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused." Axios

Dimon Thoughts

Jamie Dimon, who made $31 million last year, thinks the wealthy have been "getting wealthier too much in many ways." But regarding his own takings, he said: "I have nothing to do with it." Dimon said inequality would be less of a problem if the U.S. economy was grown more, and decried tax cuts for the rich. But regarding wealth-tax-proponent and billionaire-basher Elizabeth Warren, he said: "I think you should vilify Nazis, but you shouldn’t vilify people who’ve worked hard to accomplish things." CNBC


Automation Fears

A recent survey lays bare the fears workers have over the automation of their jobs, with 81% refusing to hand their drudge work over to an algorithm. According to PwC, this creates a problem: people don't learn much when they're worried, and they need to learn new tech skills to survive the automation wave. Fortune

WeWork Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal reports that, just before WeWork planned to go through with its IPO, the Securities and Exchange Commission sent the company a list of 13 unresolved concerns around things like financial reporting—particularly its "contribution margin" profitability metric—and WeWork forecasts that assumed 100% occupancy of its offices. WSJ

Australian Wildfires

The Australian state of New South Wales—the one with Sydney in it—has declared a state of emergency over a series of catastrophic wildfires that have so far taken three lives. Over 60 fires are currently burning across NSW and Queensland. Sydney, Australia's biggest city, may soon be threatened. P.S.: Read this opinion piece from the mayor of a stricken town, who urges governments to listen to scientists about climate change. Sky

British Steel

China's Jingye Group has reportedly agreed in principle to buy the troubled British Steel for around $90 million, with the British government set to help out with financial support including loan guarantees. The sale, if it goes through, would come with 4,000 workers in the U.K. and 1,000 in France and the Netherlands—20,000 more jobs in British Steel's supply chain would also welcome the deal. BBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. 


Know a standout female leader at your company or another? Tell us about her! We’re taking nominations for Fortune’s upcoming Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, where we convene ascending leaders to converse about business, share advice, and connect with one another. It’s Dec. 10-11 in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Submit your nominations to They can register here.


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