Brainstorm Tech is particularly timely this year

November 23, 2020, 10:29 AM UTC

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Good morning.

For a decade, Fortune assembled some of tech’s smartest minds in Aspen each summer to discuss how technology is changing the world. This year we had to skip, for obvious reasons. That was unfortunate, because the pandemic has only accelerated the head-spinning pace of technological change. 

Next week, we will gather the usual gang for a virtual version of Brainstorm Tech, and dive into those extraordinary changes. The year-end timing could not be more appropriate, as all of us are trying to understand how the sweeping changes of the past year will reshape the future.

On hand for the discussions will be Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, which has emerged as one of the leading tools to enable virtual collaboration; Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, who is not just a founder but also something of a teacher-philosopher for the new world; Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise, who is at the leading edge of one of the biggest life-changing tech developments, self-driving cars; Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, which is helping Fortune 500 companies adopt to the profound sweep and speed of change; and Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, and Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, who are helping companies adopt their technology platforms to the new world of distributed work. Other CEOs on tap: IBM’s Arvind Krishna, NYSE’s Stacey Cunningham, Under Armour’s Patrik Frisk, UiPath’s Daniel Dines, Rakuten’s Mickey Mikitani, and Google Cloud’s Thomas Kurian.

I’m sorry to have missed the annual bike ride up to Maroon Bells. But other than that, next week’s virtual event looks to have all the captivating content and networking opportunities that Brainstorm Tech always provides—and more. While attendance is by invitation only, there are a few virtual seats left. Apply here or shoot me a note. More news below. And check out our picks for the 21 best stocks to buy in 2021.

Alan Murray


AstraZeneca results

AstraZeneca has announced good results for its candidate coronavirus vaccine, which was developed alongside the University of Oxford. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 90% under one dosing regimen, and 62% under another—the average is 70%. Fortunately, the more effective dosing regimen also allows for more people to be vaccinated, as the original dose is a half-dose. Also of note: this is a more traditional vaccine type than the ones developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Modern. Fortune

Alibaba regulation

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang has welcomed China's draft rules that are aimed at cracking down on monopolistic behavior by online giants. Industry "development and government supervision is a relationship that promotes and relies on each other, so that platform enterprises cannot only develop well themselves, but also serve the sustainable and healthy development of the whole society," said Zhang, a few weeks after Beijing cancelled the IPO of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group. Reuters

Fourth wave

Hong Kong has entered a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, blowing up its plans for a "travel bubble" that would have allowed people to fly quarantine-free to Singapore. Hong Kong economic chief Edward Yau: "In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture." Fortune

Google complaint

A group of publishers and advertising technology firms has urged the U.K.'s antitrust regulator to pursue Google over a planned privacy move that they say would affect their ability to track people as they use the web. Google is set to roll out the "privacy sandbox" technology in Chrome next year, effectively replacing third-party tracking cookies with a series of interfaces giving advertisers access to information about the performance of their ads. Bloomberg


Facebook and Biden

Facebook is hoping to cozy up quickly to the Biden administration by pushing users to get a COVID-19 vaccination, and to share content related to the Paris climate agreement. Handily, Facebook's chief lobbyist is Nick Clegg, who had a good relationship with Biden when the former was the U.K.'s deputy prime minister and the latter the U.S.'s vice president. Financial Times

Dividends resume

Some large U.S. companies—Kohl's, Marathon Oil, Darden Restaurants, Estée Lauder—have started paying dividends again, after halting them to hoard cash earlier in the pandemic. Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi: "Multinationals are beginning to exhale…The resumption of corporate dividend payments is an encouraging sign that executives believe that the pandemic will soon be behind us." Wall Street Journal

Black Friday

Consumers are increasingly anxious about the prospect of hitting Black Friday sales in enclosed shops and malls, according to a Deloitte survey. This is the first of Deloitte's pre-Thanksgiving surveys in which more consumers said they were planning to shop online than in stores. CNBC

Social responsibility

At Fortune's action-packed Investor Roundtable (other stories here, here and here) panelists noted that funds specializing in ESG investing kept buying when other investors were selling off their stocks earlier this year. Ritholz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown: "A lot of old-school portfolio managers scoff at it. Like, who cares how a company treats its employees? When you talk to investors in their twenties and thirties, they care so much." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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