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Friday feedback: Defending democracy, finding purpose

November 13, 2020, 10:06 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Since it is Friday, some feedback. M.H. wrote in:

“It’s time for business leaders to intervene on behalf of democracy… supporting American tradition and visibly and vocally rejecting this deranged, selfish attempt to steal an open election….Your column today speaks to the relationship between profit and purpose. That rings rather hollow if these leaders are not willing to take positions in support of the very system that has allowed them to become big wheels.”

M.G. had a different take on the election, responding to my post that the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers all congratulated President-elect Biden on his victory last Saturday:

“If the business leaders are glad for the presidential results, then they deserve the tax, regulatory and legal quagmire that will result.” 

Yesterday, I mentioned an exercise our Fortune CONNECT Fellows were doing to identify their personal purpose, prompting this moving response from T.H.:

“I have been feeling trapped in a job that I once loved because it ticked all my personal purpose boxes. Today, the company is just a shadow of its former self and a wholly unfulfilling experience. 

“Daily I ask myself ‘What do I want to do? Where do I go from here?’ Life’s stresses cloud my thinking and I spiral into a downward circle of frustration, fear and doubt. But your email reminded me that I need to get realigned with my personal purpose and that will help chart the course for the future.”

And finally, my favorite response of the week from D.L., who reminded me of my own purpose in writing this daily note:

“I cannot say enough how these notes inspire me every day. Thank you.”

More news below. And a special read: Geoff Colvin’s story on why the pandemic has been a field day for fraudsters.

Alan Murray


Chinese congratulations

Beijing has belatedly congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their big win, days after the victory became clear. "We have been following the reaction on this U.S. presidential election from both within the United States and from the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a briefing today. “We respect the American people’s choice and extend congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.” Fortune

TikTok reprieve

TikTok wanted to know if its cancellation in the U.S. was still on, and now it has its answer: no—at least not for now. The Commerce Department yesterday bowed to a preliminary injunction against the ban, saying the shutdown order would not go into effect "pending further legal developments." It also launched an appeal against that injunction. Wall Street Journal

Investment ban

American investors are now banned from putting money into Chinese companies that are owned or controlled by the military, per an order from President Trump. China Mobile Communications Group and China Telecoms Corp are both on the list, so shares in China's biggest networks have taken a dive. Also on the list: Huawei, Hikvision, Norinco Group, and China Railway Construction Corp. Fortune

Jones Day

Jones Day, the venerable law firm that is assisting President Trump in his challenges to the election results—challenges that few legal experts see as holding water—is catching a lot of flak for it. The firm has stressed that its client is the Pennsylvania Republican Party, rather than Trump, but many lawyers remain highly critical of its decision to press ahead with what they see as frivolous suits. Fortune


Scuttling Ant

President Xi Jinping personally ordered the suspension of Ant Group's planned enormo-IPO, according to Chinese officials who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. Xi was reportedly furious at controlling shareholder Jack Ma's decision to criticize the government's financial regulation, days before the flotation was set to go ahead. WSJ

Defending pollsters

Cornell political scientist Baobao Zhang reckons everyone's being too harsh on pollsters, following President Trump's unexpectedly strong showing at last week's election. In a piece for Fortune, she highlights pollsters' challenge of declining response rates, which can bias results: "This can become a vicious cycle of inaccuracy and distrust. Nonresponse bias makes it harder for survey researchers to get accurate data, and when researchers—or pollsters—fail, the trust in the process dwindles, exacerbating levels of nonresponse." Fortune

BioNTech founders

The Washington Post has a nice profile of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci the co-founders of German biotech firm and Pfizer partner BioNTech. From the piece: "The husband-and-wife team behind one of the world’s top coronavirus vaccine candidates are the sort of people who don’t own a car and who took the morning off for their wedding day in 2002 before returning to the lab. Half a day was 'sufficient,' Türeci explained." WaPo

Cummings going

Dominic Cummings, Brexit architect and top Boris-Johnson-whisperer, is to leave his role as the prime minister's chief adviser just as the Brexit transition period ends on December 31—in other words, as the proverbial potentially hits the fan (there's still no agreement between the U.K. and EU as to their subsequent trading and regulatory relationship.) News of Cummings' departure comes just after the resignation of communications director Lee Cain, one of his key allies, due to a reported power struggle. Sky News

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.