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MassMutual is offering free life insurance policies to frontline health care workers

October 9, 2020, 10:09 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Barely a day goes by without my hearing of another large company that is taking unprecedented action to address social problems. Cynics among CEO Daily readers roll their eyes when I say this, but something very different is going on in the world of business today—unlike anything I’ve experienced in a four-decade journalistic career.

Yesterday, I spoke with Roger Crandall, CEO of MassMutual—which is a different animal from most companies in that it doesn’t have shareholders and is governed by its policyholders. In response to the pandemic, Crandall has offered free, three-year life insurance policies to frontline health care workers. The company has created an easy online application that doesn’t require a physical. The only requirement is that the person live in the U.S., be no older than 60, make less than $250,000, and be employed or volunteer at least 10 hours per month at a health care or emergency medical service provider.

I asked Crandall how much the program ultimately will cost the company. He said anywhere from $20 million to $150 million, depending on how many people take advantage of it. “You’d be surprised how hard it is to give away life insurance,” he said. (You can take him up on the offer here.)

And since it’s Friday, some feedback. BJ objected to the optimistic words from the folks at Slack that innovation without an office can be encouraged with virtual tools.

“Offices did not simply provide white boards and water coolers; they provided a multitude of social, emotional and intellectual aspects that fueled innovation, by offering intersections of disciplines and awareness of the edges where most of the creativity lives. Imagine IBM labs, HP Labs, Bell Labs, National Labs …. seriously doubt such complicated projects will continue from home.”

Also, lots of commentary on my post Monday suggesting Trump may have made business better, by forcing companies to address issues he was avoiding—climate change, pandemic safety, diversity and inclusion. “Good reflections. I approve,” wrote BT. But WHT objected to my statement that a new administration might bring a raft of business regulatory measures, many of them ill-conceived:

“Ill-conceived? What an arrogant statement to make. You’re an expert now?”

No expert. But I know enough from three decades in Washington to say this with confidence: many regulatory schemes are ill-conceived.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Nobel Peace Prize

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the U.N.'s World Food Programme, for the work it does combating hunger and promoting peace—tasks that often go hand-in-hand. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the WFP was already a deserving recipient, but its role had become even more important in the pandemic. Fortune

AMD and Xilinx

AMD is reportedly in advanced talks to buy Xilinx, a rival chipmaker that had Huawei as a big customer and is therefore smarting from sanctions on the Chinese firm. The deal could apparently be worth over $30 billion, marking the semiconductor world's biggest tie-up yet. Wall Street Journal

Borsa Italiana

The London Stock Exchange is selling Milan's stock exchange to Euronext, the top pan-European exchange. The Borsa Italiana deal is worth $5 billion, and follows discussions that began last month. It is, however, contingent on European regulators approving LSE's purchase of data provider Refinitiv for $27 billion. CNBC

IBM strategy

IBM, which yesterday announced a plan to spin off its IT unit, is on the hunt for acquisitions and new businesses that will gel with its new focus on the cloud and A.I. As CEO Arvind Krishna told Fortune: "Can we do M&A, or acquisitions, to bolster our technology platforms? An absolute yes, no qualifications. We're open for business. As we find things that are appropriate, we will go ahead and keep doing that." Fortune


Coinbase politics

After exhorting Coinbase's employees to avoid politics in the workplace or leave, CEO Brian Armstrong has lost 5% of them. Armstrong said around 60 employees had accepted an exit package with four to six months' severance, and they did not include a disproportionate number of people of color. Fortune

Militia plot

Thirteen people have been charged over a plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which would have involved kidnapping, attacks on law enforcement and—the militia conspirators apparently hoped—civil war. Authorities say the plotters trained with firearms and experimented with explosives. Their plan was to be carried out before the election. Washington Post

Stimulus hopes

What will the markets do if there's no fresh, comprehensive stimulus deal in the U.S.? Wedbush Securities' Dan Ives estimates a 5% bump if there is a deal, and a 5% hit if there isn't. Ives: "The Street could see some volatility as this game of high stakes poker takes place on the Hill over the coming weeks." Game update: Nancy Pelosi says no airline bailout without a wider stimulus package. Fortune

Wealth inequality

Bloomberg reports that the U.S.'s 50 richest people are worth nearly as much as the poorest 50% of Americans (both groups having a combined net worth in the region of $2 trillion.) And, in a detail that must surely come with political ramifications, millennials constitute the largest generational group in the U.S. workforce, and control just 4.6% of its wealth. Bloomberg

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.