CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Corporate America addresses the Chauvin verdict

April 21, 2021, 10:16 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.

Derek Chauvin was yesterday convicted of George Floyd’s murder. The outcome of the former Minneapolis police officer’s trial was always going to elicit some comment from American industry, and statements have indeed rolled in. What shall we make of them?

After the verdict was announced, my colleague Geoff Colvin wrote a savvy guide to the path CEOs must navigate. He raised several significant points, including these: companies and CEOs generally don’t comment on verdicts; their constituents nonetheless expect them to speak out on societal issues; Chauvin may appeal; and “talk of healing or moving on could well backfire if it seems to suggest that the large-scale, long-term issues of racial equity that Floyd’s murder highlighted have somehow been resolved by the verdict.”

As it turned out, business leaders’ statements tended to acknowledge the ongoing battle against racism.

Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, who has previously spoken to Fortune about how strongly he and his company felt about Floyd’s death, tweeted that the verdict was a reminder “of why we fight for justice for all.”

Here’s Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Right now I’m thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to them, and to everyone who can’t help but see themselves in his story. We stand in solidarity with you, knowing that this is part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.”

And General Motors’ Mary Barra: “While the guilty verdicts in the trial seeking justice for George Floyd are a step in the fight against bias and injustice, we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale.”

Microsoft president Brad Smith: “Today’s verdict is a step forward in acknowledging painful truths and for the continued cause of defeating racism and fighting discrimination. Our company remains committed to the continued path ahead.”

Salesforce tweeted: “Today’s verdict was a defining & important moment. We recognize this does not make up for so much loss and injustice experienced by the Black community. George Floyd should be alive today. The work continues. We will keep taking action for racial equality and a more just world.”

Meanwhile, Starbucks noted that “we still have work to do to address systemic racism and ensure everyone has an equal chance to succeed and thrive.”

Industry groups also talked about the need for further action.

Here’s Rick Wade, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “There has been much attention paid to the trial and today marks a step towards healing. As a nation, we need to remain steadfast in our pursuit of equality of opportunity for Black Americans and other people of color.”

“Though today’s verdict is a step toward justice in this case,” said the Business Roundtable, “unarmed Black men and women continue to die in encounters with the police. To ensure true justice and healing, our country needs to take steps to address its long history of racial inequity in law enforcement.”

Do you think these statements met the moment? Let us know. More news below.

David Meyer


Discord discord

The popular-in-gaming chat startup Discord has pulled out of takeover talks with Microsoft and at least two other potential suitors, opting instead to gather steam for a potential IPO. Discord doubled its monthly user base last year to 140 million and its revenues are rising quickly, though it is apparently still not profitable. Wall Street Journal

"Super" eh?

The European Super League is effectively dead in the water, after the withdrawal of all the six British teams that were to participate, plus Italy's Inter Milan. The ESL was an attempt to make European soccer more, well, American, with a league whose well-funded members could not be relegated, no matter how bad they were. To say the plan was criticized would probably be the understatement of the century; fans were apoplectic, and politicians led from the back accordingly. Fortune

TikTok suit

TikTok is being sued in the U.K. for several billion pounds, over the allegation that it illegally collects children's personal data and sells it to third parties. This mass suit is separate from an investigation, over similar concerns, that's being conducted by the country's data-protection regulator. Remember: the U.K. may have left the EU, but its data-protection laws are still aligned with those in the EU, and are therefore very tough indeed, especially when it comes to children's data. Financial Times


Apple unveiled new products and services yesterday: a very thin iMac using the company's own desktop chip; a new 5G iPad Pro that also uses the same chip and has new display technology; a new Apple TV with redesigned remote; a family credit card plan; paid-for podcasts; and long-rumored tracking tags called AirTags. Fortune


Earth Day

Tomorrow's Earth Day, and HP has accordingly announced a new goal of making its entire value chain net-zero by 2040. CEO Enrique Lores sets out more goals in this piece for Fortune: "The urgency of this moment demands that we take bold action and commit to ambitious targets. That’s why we are accelerating our efforts on several fronts, including increased use of sustainable materials like recycled plastics and metals to drive a circular economy." Fortune

PepsiCo sustainability

PepsiCo has announced a plan to eliminate vast amounts of its greenhouse gas emissions, by cultivating around 7 million acres of farmland using regenerative practices, then sourcing its crops from that land. However, there are as yet no standards or measurements for defining regenerative agriculture. Fortune

A.I. enthusiasm

The pandemic appears to have muted corporate enthusiasm for A.I., with companies last year spending about as much time and money in the area as they did in 2019. "Additionally, 35% of businesses said they had evaluated or tested A.I. projects last year—a number that was, again, mostly unchanged," writes Fortune's Jonathan Vanian. Fortune

Dirty Bitcoin

Much Bitcoin is "mined" by coal-powered computers in China's Xinjiang region, so, when the flooding of a Xinjiang coal mine caused a blackout there last week, a third of Bitcoin's global computing power vanished. Lessons: Bitcoin is really environmentally-unfriendly, and China's dominance in Bitcoin mining raises security concerns. Meanwhile, a JPMorgan strategist is worried about a Bitcoin slump if prices don't clear $60,000 again soon. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.