The effect of work-from-home policies in the battle for talent is far from clear

December 6, 2021, 11:14 AM UTC

Good morning.

Will the battle for talent be won by those companies with the most flexible work-from-home policies? Not so clear, says Fortune’s Geoff Colvin. The “get back to the office” hard line being pushed by New York bank CEOs Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs doesn’t seem to be dampening the desire of aggressive young bankers to work for them—“those who want to hustle,” as Dimon put it. You can read Colvin’s story here.

Separately, you may have seen our Future 50 list, out last week. But if you missed it, it’s worth some attention. This list is backed by a rigorous methodology designed by our partners at BCG, to try and measure what BCG’s Martin Reeves calls “vitality.” The idea is to get beyond current metrics of revenue, profit, growth, etc., and try to get a fix on a company’s commitment to the future. We do that by looking at the market’s estimate of the company’s growth potential, as well as at a broad array of other corporate indicators, using machine learning to select and weight factors based on their contribution to long-term growth.

So who made this year’s list? Tech companies took the top three spots—CrowdStrike, Twilio, and DataDog. Sustainability also looms large, with companies like Adani Green Energy in India and Longi Green Energy in China ranking. There are also some familiar names that frequent other Fortune lists, like Workday and Nvidia. And then there’s one company whose big bet on the future paid off sooner than expected—vaccine maker Moderna. You can explore the full list here.

And, by the way, we are building a new community for corporate directors at Fortune, designed to help them navigate a rapidly changing business world. This Thursday (12 p.m. ET) we will be looking at how boards should be viewing ESG goals, with Debra Lee, who sits on the boards of AT&T, Burberry, Marriott and P&G; Strive Masiyiwa, who is on the boards of Netflix and Unilever; and Deborah Wright, who is on the boards of Citigroup and Voya. You can apply to join The Modern Board community here.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Portfolio problems

SoftBank shares have now fallen for seven trading days straight, thanks to problematic portfolio inhabitants such as Didi Chuxing (now delisting from the NYSE) and Arm (the sale of which to Nvidia may be blocked by the FTC). The latest drop was 8% today, though that also came in the context of a broader Asian tech sell-off—Alibaba (also a SoftBank investee) fell 6.4%. Financial Times

Evergrande drop

Also down: Evergrande, shares of which fell 12% today after admitting there was "no guarantee" it could pay its debts on time. In other words, the Chinese property developer's much-awaited default could finally be here. Guardian

Dalio clarification

Ray Dalio has "clarified" his very-badly-received words on China's treatment of dissidents. When he said China's autocratic system was behaving "like a strict parent," the Bridgewater Associates founder was not endorsing that approach, and when he compared the question of investing in China to that of investing in the U.S. despite "our own human rights issues," he "didn't mean to convey that the U.S. and China deal with these issues similarly because they certainly don't." Fortune

COVID pills

The COVID antiviral treatment pills that Pfizer and Merck/Ridgeback have developed are close to being approved in the U.S., but public-health experts worry that they will take months to be rolled out in poorer countries. Wall Street Journal


Omicron theory

A preliminary study, not yet peer-reviewed, seems to show the Omicron variant shares some genetic code with a non-COVID coronavirus that causes the common cold. That could mean Omicron comes from someone who had both the SARS-CoV-2 and HCoV-229E viruses at the same time. It could also suggest Omicron is both very good at infecting people (as is becoming quickly apparent) and—maybe, just maybe—not so harsh on the people it infects. Washington Post

Shell protests

South African environmentalists are protesting against Shell's plans for seismic oil exploration off the country's eastern Wild Coast wildlife refuge. They say the seismic blasting will scare away migrating whales and kill or repel fishing stocks. A South African high court disagreed in a ruling Friday that will allow the survey to go ahead. Reuters

Biotech stocks

Some hedge funds (e.g. Perceptive Advisors) have been pummeled by this year's drop in biotech stocks. Biotech is the worst-performing S&P 500 sector this year, tumbling more than 20% during a 2021 that has seen the broader index rise by a similar amount. Wall Street Journal

Debt rules

Germany's incoming coalition government has some bright ideas for raising funds while avoiding a violation of the country's constitutionally-ensured "debt brake" cap on new borrowing. One involves expanding the remit of the KfW state-owned development bank (which has doled out nearly $80 billion in business support over the pandemic, all of it excluded from official debt) to include things like energy-efficiency improvements. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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