Welcome to the future (of Fortune, that is)

January 15, 2020, 8:18 PM UTC

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.

We are pausing our regular programming for an important announcement: A new Fortune is here, one that we believe is designed to meet the needs of the 21st century business person.

Fortune was born as a magazine in 1930, and its first-ever issue was, in retrospect, oddly irreverent: It featured Fortuna, the oft-blindfolded Roman goddess of luck and chance, spinning her wheel on the cover. I read it thusly: If you’re in these pages, you’re as lucky (also privileged) as you are good.

Fortune’s inaugural issue in February 1930.

Historically, the goddess had been a capricious force in a superstitious world; random, fickle, ever ready to remind the powerful that their fortunes can change every time she used her wheel. “She is spoken of by nearly all the Roman writers as blind, inconstant, unjust, and delighting in mischief,” explains folklore blogger Icy Sedwick. Paying respect to her became a fraught form of uncertainty insurance for merchants, farmers, gamblers, and for the truly downtrodden, like the enslaved.

This year, as we celebrate our 90th birthday, we’re bringing the new Fortune into a very different world.

Here’s just some of what we’ve been working on:

  • We’ve launched a new site—live today!—where you’ll find the best of what we do all in one place: strategic insights, deep-dive business stories, and exclusive access to what executives are thinking. To access all of our revamped stories, register for free.
  • Later this month, we’re launching new newsletters: The Bull Sheet, a daily brief on finance news, and The Broadside, a monthly bulletin for career-oriented women. Sign up to stay up to date on their launches.
  • We’ve launched a new hub for our exclusive videos. It brings together our rich collection of executive stories, insights—the latest and best from our interviews with business leaders, analysis series, and our ground-breaking conference sessions. Access hundreds of hours of content.
  • Best of all, the team is diligently working on putting the entire Fortune archives online, from Fortuna to today, where diligent researchers, case-makers, and students of business can do deep dives into history. (I expect raceAhead readers will find this feature particularly useful.)
  • Starting with the February 2020 issue, we’re substantially upgrading our print magazine. You will find more stories per issue, presented with higher quality covers and paper stock. To see for yourself, subscribe to the magazine.

With the pressing issues facing the world—and the unique opportunity business has to address them—it feels like a good time to retire Fortuna to her rightful place in business history.

I’d like to believe that the new Fortune is a better form of uncertainty insurance: When you have excellent business journalism, a mighty network, and a 90-year trove of world-class information at your fingertips, you don’t need to worry so much about luck.

(And let’s leave “privilege” in the past, too.)

Ellen McGirt

On Point

The Notorious B.I.G. and Whitney Houston are part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2020 class Six acts make up the wildly diverse class of inductees‚ joining Houston and Biggie will be Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, and T. Rex. The posthumous inductees include all of T.Rex (except drummer Bill Legend), Doobies drummers Michael Hossack and Keith Knudsen, and of course, Biggie and Houston. Should be a helluva tribute performance though. Click through for the artists who were shut out this year. (Next year, Chaka.)
Rolling Stone

Siemens on the hot seat for Australia’s wildfires? This is the predicament facing the German industrial titan, as activists campaign their relatively small involvement in Australia’s fossil fuel industry. Siemens is providing the signaling infrastructure for a new railroad project that links the country’s biggest planned coal mine to the Australian coast. Their small and largely uncredited role in a much bigger show has made them a target of protesters, who have been cannily plastering the Siemens logo over scenes of fire with photoshopped koalas and kangaroos. The campaign is being sparked by activist Greta Thunberg, who will return to Davos next week having kept her promise to ask powerful CEOs to use their influence to address the climate crisis. Fortune has the scoop.

Reclaiming Ivory Coast culture, one emoji at a time O'Plerou Grebet, a 22-year-old graphic design student in Ivory Coast, thinks the challenge with emojis is bigger than skin tone. They’re not truly global if they don’t reflect local. "We are living like we're Western people," he says of the way his country has changed. "It's like we are not proud of our own culture." So he created a set of stickers that he believes better reflects daily life in Ivory Coast and nearby countries. The free pack of some 360 stickers can be found in Zouzoukwa, a mobile app which means “image” in the local language of Bété. They are beautiful and very local—turns out “I told you so” has a very specific gesture associated with it. Enjoy.

Elizabeth Warren’s plan for people with disabilities In this op-ed for Fortune, the Massachusetts senator says that access to technology that promotes independent living is a core part of her presidential plan. That may mean breaking up big tech. “[M]y administration will use its authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to license patented innovations to companies that will ensure that technologies are affordable and accessible to people with disabilities,” she says. “I will also fight for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health to expand research into affordable and life-changing support for people with disabilities and break up big tech companies to stimulate competition and innovation.”

On Background

Ten OTHER things Martin Luther King said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 91 today, which is an excellent time to reflect on his legacy, the life he would have lived, and his beloved status among the children of the white people who made his life a misery. While he is best known for certain speeches and texts, one of my favorite tribute shares on King-related commemorative days is this video from Jay Smooth, a groundbreaking artist, vlogger, radio host, hip hop expert, and national treasure. Here’s one that speaks directly to me: “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” But the ones on America military and power will give you chills.

Guess which book has been checked out of the New York Public Library more than any other? Millions and millions of books have been checked out of the NYPL system since it was born more than 100 years ago, so it’s top ten list is a fascinating look at the lives of readers in New York and beyond. There are lots of children’s books— Charlotte’s Web, Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are make the cut—and Orwell’s 1984 ranks high on the list. But the most checked-out book of all time is the sweetly illustrated tale of a young African- American boy named Peter, enjoying how snow transforms his world. Published in 1962, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is an early example of diversity in children’s literature.

“The Jim Crow of climate change” and the battle for the Gulf Coast The second installment of “Black in the Time of Climate Change,” a series from the OneZero online magazine, dives into the disparate post-disaster responses to Black and white communities after Hurricane Katrina. It was a wake-up call for advocates. Then, 12 years later, it happened again: Black communities were largely abandoned after Hurricane Harvey. Now, activists are banding together across the South to prepare for the inevitable next monster storm, helping residents understand climate change, and prodding governments to do better—like helping the poor retrofit their homes and providing community food sources, like public gardens. “The conversations have to be very open and honest, which means a lot of times they’re very painful,” says Katherine Egland, an activist from Gulfport, Miss. “It’s not enough just to admit that you failed. You have to be able to tell us how you’re going to ensure that we don’t have to deal with these same failures next time.”


“Yeah, this album is dedicated
To all the teachers that told me I'd never amount to nothin'
To all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin' in front of
Called the police on me when I was just tryin' to make some money to feed my daughter (it's all good)
And all the niggas in the struggle
You know what I'm sayin'? It's all good, baby baby.”

—Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka. The Notorious B.I.G., "Juicy"

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet