The challenge of investing in innovation

March 30, 2021, 10:57 AM UTC

This is the web version of CEO Daily. To get it delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

More than two-fifths of businesses around the world have increased their innovation budgets in the last year, according to the second edition of the Mastercard-sponsored Become Index, a long-term research initiative carried out by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS).

The latest survey found 42% of businesses are spending more on innovation due to the inexorable pull of digitization. Interestingly, though, only 53% of executives surveyed said their organizations place a high priority on innovation—and nearly two-thirds said the uncertain economic outlook was a challenge for their innovation plans.

“Many organizations have proven they can be fast, agile, and emerge stronger to whatever awaits next, but there are some gaps in what businesses saw important and what consumers need during and after the pandemic,” said HBR-AS managing director Alex Clemente. “I believe business and society are now forced to redefine what it means to be innovative. And businesses everywhere should re-evaluate if the new-found velocity and pace of change can be sustained.”

Separately, the latest episode of Leadership Next is out this morning. This time, Alan and Ellen spoke to Hint CEO Kara Goldin, who discussed everything from the quality of U.S. drinking water to her early dreams of working for…Fortune! It’s a must-listen—on Apple and Spotify—not least for Goldin’s advice for women who are considering changing careers at this momentous time.

Also, don’t miss Fortune‘s newest newsletter, CFO Daily, written by Sheryl Estrada. The first edition came out yesterday, featuring Square CFO Amrita Ahuja’s thoughts on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—and on their environmental costs. You can sign up to receive CFO Daily in your inbox here.

News below.

David Meyer


Vaccine warning

First-generation COVID-19 vaccines will likely be ineffective in less than a year, according to a global survey of scientists carried out by the People's Vaccine Alliance, which is calling for the vaccination of the whole world as soon as possible, to reduce the likelihood of mutations. You know the drill by now: this means a drastic expansion in production, which is unlikely to happen without the temporary relaxation of intellectual property restrictions. Guardian

No celebrations

The Biden administration is trying to rapidly expand vaccine eligibility in the U.S., after CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned she sensed "impending doom" about the trajectory of infection rates. Biden: "We are in a life and death race with the virus…with vaccines there’s hope, but people are letting up on precautions which is a very bad thing." Financial Times

Archegos fallout

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley's losses in last week's big selloff were limited in part thanks to their race to move large blocks of assets ahead of other prime brokerage businesses that were handling Archegos's trading (such as Credit Suisse and Nomura, which both got hammered.) The banks held a meeting to discuss an orderly wind-down of trades, before the Archegos situation became big news. Wall Street Journal Also read this FT piece on Archegos chief Bill Hwang.


Volkswagen is reportedly going to change its brand name in the U.S. to "Voltswagen", to—sorry—drive home the fact that it's becoming an electric-vehicle company. A formal announcement may come today, but the company seems to have prematurely posted the press release before taking it down. Fortune


Animal origins

It is "extremely unlikely" that COVID-19 came from a lab leak, according to a joint report from the World Health Organization and China that pegged the virus's likely vector as being from bats to humans via some other animal. Fortune

Boring robot

You have no doubt been entertained / freaked out by videos of Boston Dynamics' robots over the years—you know, the humanoids and robotic dogs that can run over logs, do backflips and so on. But now the company has unveiled a workhorse robot (not in the equine sense) that is refreshingly boring. The robot, named Stretch, is basically an arm on four wheels, and it provides a preview of what warehouse workers may look like pretty soon. Wired

Digital currency

Cryptocurrencies will make the economy more inclusive, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman writes in this piece for Fortune: "While we remain in the early days of the transition from cash to more digital forms of money, the time is ripe to modernize and upgrade the underlying technological infrastructure of the financial system." Fortune

Pokemon cards

Yes, really. Go dig out your old Pokemon cards, because the series is celebrating its quarter-century anniversary and the prices for some cards are going wild. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet