Grappling with glossed-over history

May 28, 2021, 10:27 AM UTC

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

First things first: With the centenary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre almost upon us, Fortune‘s Ellen McGirt, Sheryl Estrada and Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez—and the talented photographer DeSean McClinton-Holland—have produced a stunning piece of work on the Black entrepreneurialism that persists in the Greenwood District of Tulsa today.

For those of you who are unaware of what happened on May 31st and June 1 in 1921—I certainly was, until recently—a well-organized white mob burned every home and destroyed every business in the prosperous Black district, which was also known as Black Wall Street. Ten thousand people were left homeless and as many as 300 people were murdered.

Incredibly, at least to my outsider eyes, the history of this outrage was then largely erased, with even many descendants of the victims being unaware of what happened. However, the tragedy has re-entered the public consciousness in a major way. There’s a high-profile debate about reparations going on, and so the Fortune team’s report could not be more timely. Featuring many interviews with entrepreneurs in the Tulsa neighborhood, it’s an essential read, as is Ellen’s consideration of how things might be different for Black Americans if the Tulsa Race Massacre had not been forgotten.

Speaking of reparations and glossed-over histories, I’d also like to draw your attention to Germany’s long-overdue decision to officially recognize the German-perpetrated genocide in Namibia at the start of the 20th century, and to offer more than $1.3 billion to make amends (a figure that many Namibians see as insufficient). What happened to the Herero and Nama people was the first genocide of the last century, but again it was forgotten by many—the Holocaust, which took millions of lives rather than tens of thousands, looms larger in the public consciousness. It is right that this earlier grotesque episode is also recognized for what it was, and its legacy engaged with.

* * *

Separately, the advisory firm Teneo has published a report on CEO usage of Twitter, and it contains several interesting findings.

For one thing, Fortune 500 CEOs and S&P 100 Tech CEOs who were born in or after the 1970s are twice as likely to be on Twitter (26% vs 13%) than older CEOs. Fortune 500 women CEOs are also 30% more likely to be on Twitter than their male counterparts.

When it comes to being outspoken on Twitter about social issues, Teneo found nearly 60% of big-company and unicorn CEOs who are active on Twitter tweeted about Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd. Nearly half spoke out about anti-Asian hate crimes. Only a fifth tweeted about the U.S. Capitol Riots, though.

“In the nearly 10 years since we have been tracking CEOs across social media, including Twitter, there has never been this much attention on their activity,” Teneo said. “This trend has accelerated with the outbreak of the pandemic. What and when CEOs tweet has become a barometer for a company’s values and how accurately they represent the views of their employees.”

Are CEOs just using Twitter, though? “We are seeing CEOs become more active on LinkedIn, in part to communicate with their internal audiences, and to a much smaller degree on Instagram,” Teneo executive social media chief Sam Davis told me. “A growing number are on Clubhouse as well. But the most influential, consequential, and news-making social platform for CEOs—where they’re growing their leadership voice and presence externally—is Twitter.”

More news below. Also, congratulations to Germany’s Christoph Schweizer, who will at the start of October become the new CEO of Boston Consulting Group. Current CEO Rich Lesser will become global chair.

David Meyer


Tesla ratings

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Taiwan and BioNTech

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Nike and Neymar

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Africa plea

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Childcare need

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Cryptocurrency carbon

The founder of Ethereum—the second-biggest cryptocurrency—says his virtual coin's shift from a "proof of work" to a "proof of stake" model will make a significant difference to its environmental impact. Vitalik Buterin said Ethereum’s energy consumption and hardware needs could be reduced by a factor of 100, or even 10,000, using the new model. Fortune

Big Oil

Fortune's Sophie Mellor examines the consequences of this week's trifecta of Big Oil body blows, in which environmentally-minded investors rebelled at ExxonMobil and Chevron, and Shell had a court tell it to speed up its emissions reductions: "Climate inaction no longer seems like an option and with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investors growing in strength and number, the pressure will likely grow," she writes. Fortune

Research NFTs

The University of California at Berkeley is raising research money by auctioning off non-fungible tokens (NFTs) identifying data that is associated with Nobel Prize-winning inventions in the fields of gene editing and cancer immunotherapy. NFTs are usually an art thing, so the school (which isn't letting go of the IP from the inventions) isn't sure how much it might raise in this novel arrangement. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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