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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo: Competition regulation will stimulate innovation

July 14, 2021, 9:57 AM UTC

Good morning.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with members of the Fortune CEO Initiative yesterday and made a couple of points worth passing on.

Asked about President Biden’s executive order on “Promoting Competition,” which I wrote about Monday, she rejected the notion that new regulation could stifle innovation.

“If we do it right, it will actually stimulate innovation. Competition is the bedrock of our capitalistic system. Many, many small companies, innovative companies, entrepreneurial companies will tell you it is increasingly difficult to compete because of concentration in the tech sector.”

The critical phrase in the comment above, of course, is: “If we get it right.” This is a tricky line to walk, and the government’s record at walking it is, well, spotty.

Raimondo, who previously served as Governor of Rhode Island, also talked about the importance of making sure the government’s training and reskilling effort has “business at the center.”

I know from experience as governor that this only works if business is at the center of what we do. The public sector over a long period of time has invested a great deal of money in job training programs that weren’t effective because they weren’t done that way. You need to put the demand first…We need to have a coalition of businesses, which I plan to convene from the public sector, where we sit at the table in a very real way and chart forward a very specific path.”

Raimondo also told the CEOs that to make the training effort work for all Americans:

“We all have to get serious and candid with ourselves about the willingness of the private sector to hire people with a non-traditional background. Most companies are still hiring the same way they did a decade ago. It’s check the box, do you have the right degree from the right school?”

Separately, on the Leadership Next podcast this week, Ellen McGirt and I spoke with one of Asia’s newest multi-billionaires: 39-year-old Anthony Tan, founder and CEO of Grab, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company that also has become a food delivery service, an e-commerce service and a fintech company—a true “super app.” Grab is on the verge of a SPAC-IPO transaction that will raise $30-$40 billion, which Tan says the company will use to “build the digital infrastructure” of Southeast Asia.

Grab grew out of a project at Harvard Business School, after Tan and his cofounder took a class called Business at the Base of the Pyramid. “We said, ‘Wow, you can build a great business and have real social impact.’” So they started by looking for a serious problem to solve, and concluded that in Malaysia, safe transportation—particularly for women—topped off the list. The rest is business history.

“One thing I’ve learned is that many businesses tend to be too focused on building a company that will last for generations. Our focus is on building a company that will leave future generations better off. Doing good is actually good for business as well, and I believe we can be proof of that.”

You can listen to the entire interview on Apple or Spotify. Other news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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