Our annual list of the World’s Most Admired Companies is out this morning, and the top three won’t surprise anyone: Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. They’ve led the list for three years straight. Apple has held the top spot for 15 years straight. Kudos to all.
But next up is a pandemic surprise: Pfizer. The company suffered like all pharma firms from public displeasure over pricing policies before the pandemic. This year, it made it back to the All-Stars list for the first time in 16 years, jumping all the way to No. 4. Let’s see if it can hold that. Another deserving new arrival: Danaher. You can see the full list here.
Meanwhile, the other big news yesterday is that Tom Brady is changing careers, from ageless quarterback to early mogul of the NFT world, promising to spend more time with the company he cofounded, @autograph.io. The company raised $170 million last month from venture funders like Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins for its plans to create and sell digital collectibles from sports icons like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretsky, Naomi Osaka, and of course, the GOAT himself. You can read more here.
Other news below. And apologies yesterday for wiping out three zeros from Volkswagen’s investment plans: It’s $180 billion over the next four years.
Vaccines for under 5s
Pfizer and BioNTech have, at the FDA’s request, begun the process of requesting FDA emergency use authorization for their COVID vaccine for under 5s. The drug companies are still testing the third dose they see as crucial to a complete course, but in the meantime the agency would like to get the ball rolling with the first two doses. Fortune
Alphabet beat analyst estimates for its Q4 revenue, with a 32% rise fueled by a surge in search advertising. That, and a rare stock split, helped its share price jump 9%. Financial Times
PayPal’s shares fell more than 17% in after-hours trading, after disappointing Wall Street analysts with both its predictions for the current quarter and earnings per share for the last. Chief executive Dan Schulman claims revenues will pick up later in the year. CNBC
India’s central bank will launch a digital currency starting April 1, and the government plans to tax the income from the transfer of virtual assets at 30%. Darshan Bathija, CEO of crypto exchange Vauld: “Imposing the tax rate makes crypto trading official now, and any concern of a ban is off the table.” (Bonus read: Turns out Russia holds about an eighth of the global cryptocurrency total.) Fortune
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Spain’s El País got hold of confidential documents sent by the U.S. and NATO to Moscow last week, detailing the West’s proposals for de-escalating the potential Ukraine reinvasion crisis. The U.S. and NATO refused to rule out Ukraine’s potential incorporation into NATO one day, but offered disarmament negotiations and other trust-building exercises. El País
Extreme heat has since 2014 become normal in the world’s oceans, scientists now reckon. This has a huge impact on marine ecosystems. Researcher Kyle Van Houtan: “Extreme climate change is here, it’s in the ocean, and the ocean underpins all life on Earth.” Guardian
UBS, asset manager to the ultrawealthy, says it sees no institutional demand for NFTs. Chief executive Ralph Hamers: “It seems to be for the moment still a retail thing. We are very careful in that business.” Fortune
Sorrell vs. WPP
Martin Sorrell still wants to take down WPP, the ad giant he built and that kicked him out after a misconduct probe, with his new baby, S4 Capital. Wall Street Journal
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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