Fortune’s annual World’s Greatest Leaders list is out this morning, and while a politician nabbed the top spot—New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern—there were a boatload of CEOs also honored. (“Boatload” is Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf’s technical term. I counted 19.)
Among them: Pfizer’s Albert Bourla, Moderna’s Stephane Bancel and BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, for the mRNA COVID vaccine miracle; PayPal’s Dan Schulman, for rethinking call center pay; Ping An’s Jessica Tan, for revolutionizing Chinese health care during the pandemic; General Catalyst Chair Kenneth Chenault, for urging corporations to speak up on voting rights for Black Americans; Deep Mind’s Demis Hassabis, for pioneering A.I.; Grab’s Anthony Tan, for reinventing his business to meet the needs of the pandemic; Taiwan Semi’s C.C. Wei, for keeping the world supplied with computer chips; Occidental’s Vicki Hollub, for championing carbon capture and storage; and Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman, for pushing for board diversity. Congrats all!
Friedman, by the way, was the featured guest at yesterday’s meeting of Fortune’s newest community, the CFO Collaborative. Friedman was CFO of Carlyle and Nasdaq before becoming CEO, and talked to the roughly 50 CFOs assembled about the exploding role of data and data analysis in running today’s companies. If you are interested in learning more about the CFO Collaborative, go here.
More news below. And be sure and read this story by Chris Morris about the Goldman Sachs managing director who bolted from the firm after making a killing by investing in Dogecoin. Something is out-of-kilter in the world.
More news below.
Japan's SoftBank posted a record $46 billion profit for the last year, mainly due to gains in the company's marquee Vision Fund. It is the highest-ever profit for a Japanese company. The Vision Fund's main success was its stake in the blockbuster listing of South Korea's Coupang, as well as the sale of a controlling stake in Sprint. WSJ
Amazon wins appeal
Amazon won its appeal against the European Commission this morning, after the bloc had ordered the company to pay $303 million in taxes to Luxembourg, the site of its first European subsidiary. The Commission said the country in effect granted Amazon a special tax deal, while Amazon says it didn't receive special treatment. It follows a similar case involving Apple's tax responsibilities in Ireland, last July. CNBC
Tensions in Israel and Gaza were inching closer to all-out war on Wednesday, as the death toll climbed: 43 people have been killed in Gaza, and six in Israel, amid a barrage of rocket fire. The violence has set off frenzied efforts by the U.S., UN and other nations to intervene diplomatically. Bloomberg
Companies are preparing to go all-in on buybacks, buoyed by optimism about the economic recovery, and a big earnings season. U.S. companies have announced $484 billion in buybacks from January to April of this year, according to Goldman Sachs, and projected the overall jump would be 35% compared to last year, while in Europe, buybacks are forecast to be up 25%. FT
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
China saw the lowest number of births last year since 1961—just 12 million babies were born—a pattern that follows other developed countries, like the U.S. But the aging population and declining births threaten the kind of employment necessary for the Chinese government's push towards further explosive industrial growth. And unlike in other countries, China's population slowdown is largely the product of its one-child policy. NYT
A new crypto exchange called Bullish (yes, really), will be launched by Block.one, a software company backed by Peter Thiel, Alan Howard and Louis Bacon. It's being capitalized with about $10 billion in cash and digital assets, and follows Coinbase's launch last month on the Nasdaq. Fortune
Uber and Lyft will offer free rides to COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. until July 4, under a new partnership with the Biden administration. The program is part of an effort to get the adult population with at least one dose of the vaccine to 70% by early July—it comes as vaccine take up has dropped in recent weeks. WSJ
CEOs are increasingly called on to speak up on social issues. When should they do it? Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, lays out a guide to when it's best to make their views known—from issues directly affecting their communities, to fundamental social norms—and when it's best to, well, shut up. Fortune
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn.
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