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CFOs carry the weight of accountability

April 14, 2021, 9:24 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Investopedia says the CFO is the “senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of the company.” But these days, that’s only the beginning. CFOs live at the intersection of metrics and accountability—and in the last decade, both have become vastly more complicated.

Data is everywhere—a massive exhaust generated by today’s technology that allows much more to be measured. And the weight of accountability has become ever heavier, as emphasis has expanded from shareholders to a broad and demanding set of stakeholders. 

That’s why we at Fortune recently launched a new service, in partnership with Workday, that’s aimed at the new CFO. We’re publishing a daily newsletter—CFO Daily—that you can sign up for here, written by the wonderful Sheryl Estrada. 

This morning’s edition focuses on the CFO of Coinbase, Alesia Haas, who was a major force in getting the company to eschew a traditional IPO and opt for a direct listing—cutting out the investment bankers. A direct listing “takes us a step forward in meeting our mission as the open financial system because everyone can participate,” Haas said. “It creates the transparency that we are hoping to bring to Coinbase.” (Btw, Coinbase got a “reference price” from Nasdaq for its listing today of $250 a share, which would give it a market value of $65 billion…a little less heady than the $100 billion that we discussed yesterday.)

We will also be inviting CFOs to join the CFO Collaborative—a community of finance leaders who will meet once a quarter to share best practices, learn from each other, and chart the evolving role of the CFO in the post-pandemic world. Our first meeting takes place May 11, when we’ll be joined by Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman—who served as CFO of The Carlyle Group before taking her current role. The Collaborative is by invitation only, but you can click here to request an invite.

You can read more of our coverage of the new CFO here. Other news below.

Alan Murray

Correction, April 14, 2021: A previous version of this newsletter essay misspelled the first name of the Coinbase CFO.


J&J pause

Following six clotting incidents out of nearly seven million vaccinations, U.S. regulators yesterday urged a pause in the rollout of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine, "out of an abundance of caution." Much to the EU's dismay, the company then said it was suspending its upcoming first deliveries there, too. South Africa has also pressed pause, though hopefully only for a few days. Fortune

Vaccine choices

Meanwhile, Italian media is reporting that the EU won't renew its contracts with AstraZeneca and J&J, whose vaccines are based on traditional adenovirus technology. The reported idea is that it's better to stick to vaccines using newer-fangled messenger RNA (mRNA) tech, namely those from BionTech/Pfizer and Moderna. Reuters

Toshiba CEO

Toshiba's shareholders have forced out CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani. The investors were already questioning the Japanese giant's corporate governance and capital allocation, but this move comes shortly after the private equity outfit CVC Capital Partners—for whom Kurumatani previously worked—expressed interest in a possible $20 billion buyout. Nikkei Asia

Ever Given

That skyscraper-sized ship may not be stuck in the Suez Canal anymore, but it's still stuck in Egypt—the authorities there have impounded it because its owners don't want to pay a reported $900 million for the salvage operation. Guardian



Grab, the Southeast Asian "super app" and the region's most valuable startup, will go public in the U.S. via a merger with a SPAC, Altimeter Growth Corp. Fortune

ByteDance fortune

ByteDance 38-year-old founder Zhang Yiming—whose company has a stable of successful apps that includes TikTok—is now one of the world's richest people, with an estimated fortune of over $60 billion. Bloomberg

Solar forecasting

Google has put over $680,000 into Open Climate Fix, a London-based startup that aims to build an online solar electricity forecasting service for Europe. Co-founder Jack Kelly used to be a research engineer at Alphabet-owned DeepMind. CNBC

Telecoms merger

The U.K.'s antitrust authority has provisionally cleared the merger of Telefonica's O2 and Virgin, which is owned by John Malone's Liberty Global. The Competition and Markets Authority was specifically looking into potential competitive issues in the wholesale connectivity market; it said there was enough competition to allay fears of higher prices or reduced quality. MarketWatch

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.