The Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix was a festival of corporate sponsorship—and FTX’s absence stood out
I spent the weekend in Abu Dhabi attending my first F1 Grand Prix, which was a multi-sensory experience that I will not soon forget. It was also the only sporting event I’ve been to where the winner was roundly booed by the audience. (To understand why requires a deeper dive into F1 trivia than I have room to make here, but try this story for starters.)
The sport is particularly notable for its crazed commitment to branding. Every part of the car, and every corner of the driver’s corpus, was covered with corporate touts. The weekend’s big winner, Team Red Bull, was promoting, in addition to the eponymous super caffeinated drink: Oracle, Honda, Mobil, Esso, Citrix, Siemens, HPE, Tag Heuer, Zoom, Pirelli and Walmart—and that’s only a partial list! Also along for the ride: Bybit, the crypto trading platform, and Tezos, which is the team’s “blockchain partner.”
Crypto companies were everywhere at the race track—suggesting there may be a strong connection between driving cars at 220 miles an hour and investing in cryptocurrencies. But unless my eyes failed me, the FTX branding had been removed from the Mercedes cars. Not sure if there is any connection between SBF’s meltdown and Lewis Hamilton’s (see here).
All of which is my long-winded way of saying that at Fortune, we are still following the far-reaching tentacles of the FTX debacle. I personally like the crypto-spinners who now argue FTX only confirms their thesis that finance needs to be decentralized (read here). Also out this weekend: new bankruptcy filings showing FTX owed its 50 biggest unsecured creditors a whopping $3.1 billion. That kind of splash creates waves surely worth watching.
More news below.
Bob Iger is suddenly Disney’s CEO again, following the ouster of the embattled Bob Chapek. Iger was CEO for 15 years, until Chapek took the reins a couple years back. Disney chair Susan Arnold: “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.” As Nicholas Gordon writes, the history of “Boomerang CEOs” is a checkered one. Fortune
Shareholder activists are feeling bold after a U.S. rule change that means corporate-director election ballots have to include both the company’s pick and activists’ pick. Corporate advisers say this change, which hugely reduces the cost of sending proxy cards to all shareholders, makes it likelier that smaller players will get at least one board seat. Wall Street Journal
Chinese electric-vehicle makers are pushing into Europe with safety features that go far beyond what is required by European law. Several companies have recently achieved these five-star European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) ratings, which they hope will overcome local skepticism of Chinese-made cars—and score big corporate customers. Reuters
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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