CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy: COVID-19 means being ‘fast and flexible’

April 7, 2021, 10:30 AM UTC

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

Good morning.

One of the greatest stories of 2020, as I’ve mentioned here before, is the amazing renewal of the bio-pharma industry. “The pandemic sent a lot of challenges our way,” Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy said in this week’s episode of our podcast Leadership Next, “but there were also these really inspiring moments, as you saw the industry coming together” to defeat the virus. As an example, Genentech “decided to give over a large proportion of our manufacturing capacity to manufacturing one of our biggest competitor’s monoclonal antibodies.” (That’s Regeneron.) “It’s a very deep partnership.”

Like other Big Pharma CEOs, Hardy says the virus “required us to be very innovative, fast and flexible. Innovative has always been a requirement for Genentech. Fast and flexible? Not so much.”

The question he and others in the industry are now asking is this: How do they maintain that level of speed, flexibility, collaboration and innovation, to attack other great health care challenges. Can the same skills that were used to develop a vaccine in record time now be turned to addressing cancer or Alzheimers? Can the nationwide rollout of vaccines provide a model for ensuring all health care treatments are more equitably available in the future?

You can hear Hardy’s thoughts on that challenge by listening to the podcast on Apple or Spotify.

And if you are interested in going deeper, you may want to sign up for Fortune Brainstorm Health, which is being held virtually this year on April 27 and 28.  CEOs speaking include Greg Adams of Kaiser Permanente, Stephane Bancel of Moderna, Gail Boudreaux of Anthem, Albert Bourla of Pfizer, Robert Ford of Abbott, Mike Kaufmann of Cardinal Health, Karen Lynch of CVS, Julie Sweet of Accenture, Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe, and Eric Yuan of Zoom.  (Is there anyone we missed?)  Wynton Marsalis and Danny Meyer also will be on the agenda. Sign up here.

More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Sustainability progress

Most companies have accelerated their green transformation plans during the pandemic, according to a survey of corporate and investment leaders commissioned by the Dutch banking group ING. The study found investors want to see companies institute harder environmental targets this year. However, corporates' most urgent ESG priority this year—ranking slightly above emissions reductions—appears to be employee health and wellbeing. ING

Bezos on tax

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has come out in favor of an increase in the U.S.'s corporate tax rate, which President Joe Biden has proposed as a way to pay for his $1.9 trillion infrastructure plans. Amazon, of course, really needs that infrastructure. Biden wants the rate to rise from 21% to 28% (the maximum was 35% before President Donald Trump's 2017 reform.) Bezos didn't say what rate he'd prefer to see. Fortune

Android privacy

The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has filed a complaint against Google and its Android mobile operating system in France. Schrems and his Noyb ("None of your business") organization claim Android illegally tracks users without their explicit consent, and does not allow them to turn off the tracking. Fortune

Sputnik V

The European Medicines Agency will next week start investigating the ethical practices behind the development of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, which the EU drug regulator is considering approving. The issue is one of potential coercion—there have been reports of Russia forcing military servicemen and state employees to participate in Sputnik V's trials. Financial Times

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Big Tech cop

Margrethe Vestager is the EU's top antitrust enforcer, as well as being the politician in charge of dragging the union into the digital age. She spoke to Fortune about how she wants to hold Big Tech accountable for its actions—and what Europe needs to do to stay in the tech game itself. Fortune

Facebook leak

Facebook hasn't done a great job of explaining why the personal data of over half a billion users are freely circulating online. It initially said this was all part of a 2019 leak that had been previously reported, but actually it only fully acknowledged the leak last night. Regulators' ears have pricked up, and Facebook's case probably won't be helped by the fact that multiple American FTC officials and EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders—the man in charge of privacy regulation there—appear to have been victims of the breach. Wired

Big fines

Speaking of accountability—the theme of Fortune's latest magazine issue—Nicolas Rapp and Brian O'Keefe have compiled a visual guide to the biggest financial penalties levied against companies in the U.S. BP's $20.8 billion Deepwater Horizon settlement may have been the biggest entry, but it's clear that the financial industry has attracted the biggest share of penalties overall. Fortune

Diversity progress

Business leaders have long been saying the right things about diversity, but with not a lot to show for it. Real change, as Fortune's Phil Wahba explains, is likely to be contingent on aligning senior executives' pay with their platitudes. Fortune  

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.