I first met former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in 2014, when Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram profiled her for a cover story. I was impressed with Rometty’s determination to change the stodgy technology giant. Her guidance to her team: “Don’t protect the past. Never be defined by your product. Always transform yourself.”
Now, Rometty has put the principles that guided her through that nine-year transformation effort into a book called Good Power, out tomorrow. I spoke to her last week and asked why she had decided to add hers to an already crowded CEO memoir market. Her response:
“I wrote the book to give people tools on how to make meaningful change and solve problems, but to do it in a positive way…It took me a year to decide to write it. I had to be authentic to me. Could I tell it in a way that I would be vulnerable enough that people can learn from it?”
She does open up—about how her father abandoned her family, how she helped raise her siblings, about her own decision not to have children in part because she felt she had already done that. And she tells how those experiences helped mold the principles that guided her life and her career: the importance of being in service of others, of knowing what must change and must endure, of “stewarding good tech.” For her, stakeholder capitalism comes naturally.
But most of the book addresses her struggle to reinvent IBM for an era when it has to compete with the likes of Amazon and Alphabet. She cites the 2014 Fortune cover, with its headline: “Can IBM Ever Be Cool?,” and recalls her reaction at the time:
“I cringe when I read it. The sentiment conveys the intense pressure IBM is under to quickly become something different than what it is. But just how different? This nuance is always in the back of my mind, simmering…Every day I wake up feeling the intensity and urgency to change in my very core.”
Rometty’s role in the IBM transformation story is also notable because she was the first woman to lead the company in its 111-year history—and one of the still too-few to lead a Fortune 500 company. She writes:
“I resisted the idea of seeing myself as a female role model because I just wanted to be seen for my work, not my gender….(But) as my profile grew inside and outside IBM, I recognized that just by doing my job I was in a position to be in service of other women…who wanted to build their own careers, or go into fields and jobs dominated by men, and gain the confidence to believe they could because, perhaps, someone else had done it.”
You can buy the book here; it’s worth the read. Other news below.
Arm’s $8 billion IPO
Arm Ltd., the British chip designer owned by SoftBank Group Corp., plans to raise at least $8 billion in a U.S. initial public offering. The IPO is expected to take place later this year, with Arm set to confidentially submit paperwork for the offering in late April. The size of the IPO would make it one of the largest in the U.S. in the last decade, with bankers valuing the company between $30 billion and $70 billion. Reuters
Jones Day and Kroll conspiracy
Law firm Jones Day and corporate intelligence group Kroll are facing a lawsuit in the U.K. High Court for their alleged involvement in a "campaign of harassment" and an unlawful conspiracy aimed at protecting Wirecard, the now-collapsed German fintech firm. The case, brought by short seller Matt Earl, alleges that the two firms used stolen communications as a pretext to intimidate Earl and prevent him from reporting on Wirecard's criminal activities. While Kroll denies the claims, Jones Day has yet to respond. Financial Times
Altria exits Juul
Altria Group recently ended its investment in Juul Labs, exchanging its minority stake for a non-exclusive global license to certain heated-tobacco intellectual property owned by Juul. The move concludes a $12.8 billion investment made in 2018 that had dwindled to just $250 million by the end of 2022. Bloomberg
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Marc Andreessen: We’re heading into a world where a flat-screen TV that covers your entire wall costs $100 and a 4-year degree costs $1M by Steve Mollman
Remote workers are adopting a new practice called ‘body doubling,’ in which they watch strangers work online by Chloe Berger
For this CEO, tech-free weekends and social media breaks help her recharge by Fortune Editors
Another Norfolk Southern train derails in Ohio, month after toxic crash in East Palestine: ‘Should not be forced to live in fear’ by Shiyin Chen and Bloomberg
NYC super commuters travel up to 5 hours round-trip to the office. They say it’s worth it by Jane Thier
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Jackson Fordyce.
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