Good morning. This is Michal Lev-Ram, writing from Utah, where Fortune will be holding its Brainstorm Tech conference later this year.
Landing in Salt Lake City early last week was a beautiful sight. A fresh sprinkling of snow made the surrounding Wasatch Mountains appear even more spectacular than usual, their white peaks glistening in the sun. “Before, my largest concern was water,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox told me during a sit-down interview later in the week. “But we’ve gotten so much snow.” The Governor’s new concern? Population growth has been on a tear in the Beehive State—partly the result of an influx of pandemic-era tech transplants—and so, in turn, has the cost of living.
I met Gov. Cox at X4, the customer conference put on by Utah-based software company Qualtrics, which was attended by about 10,000 people. “I remember trying to recruit to Utah 10 years ago, and it was hard,” Ryan Smith, Qualtrics co-founder and executive chairman, told me. “We used to be scared to relocate people here. We’d, like, make sure their kids were okay at their new school.”
Smith, who along with his wife also owns the Utah Jazz NBA team, has long been bullish on his home state. He’s no longer a lone voice. According to Zig Serafin, CEO of Qualtrics: “There’s a lot in Silicon Valley and Seattle that people aren’t loving.” That may be true, but Utah’s relatively low taxes and affordable real estate—yes, even despite the recent uptick—might have something to do with the appeal of the state too. And its surprisingly high rate of unicorns is helping to attract all sorts of suitors.
Speaking of: Just this Monday, private equity firm Silver Lake and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agreed to acquire Qualtrics in a $12.5 billion deal. (During interviews that took place at X4, Smith declined to comment on the then-impending acquisition, though he said being a “private company with scale” was the most exciting time in Qualtrics’ history.)
This wave of activity in the state—coupled with its natural beauty—is the reason we’re bringing our Brainstorm Tech conference to Park City, Utah this July. You can find out more and apply to attend here. The snow will be gone by summer, but the Wasatch Mountains will be just as picturesque.
SVB's optimistic CEO
A deep dive into the leadership atop Silicon Valley Bank reveals that CEO Greg Becker and his two lieutenants all but ignored the Fed's interest rates hikes, betting rates would come back down to earth. Before the bank's collapse, their upbeat attitudes were more "befitting tech entrepreneurs than bank honchos," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Schwab’s net worth falls
Charles Schwab's wealth has plummeted by $2.9 billion since March 8, the most significant drop since he appeared on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index 10 years ago. His net worth now stands at $10 billion. Schwab's company shares have fallen by 32% since last week's close as traders assess the risk SVB's collapse poses to other institutions. Bloomberg
U.S. sues Rite Aid
The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against Rite Aid, accusing the pharmacy chain of illegally filling hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids, while ignoring red flags. The complaint, filed in a Cleveland federal court, states that from May 2014 to June 2019, Rite Aid filled prescriptions that were medically unnecessary, off-label, or not issued in the usual course of professional practice, and that pharmacists continued to fill these prescriptions despite clear signs of wrongdoing. Rite Aid did not return Reuters's request for comment. Reuters
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
FDIC official warned 4 years ago that uninsured regional bank deposits were an ‘underappreciated risk.’ No one listened, and we’re now paying the price by Will Daniel
Sam Altman personally gave loans to stranded startup founders while taking shots at D.C. for making bank blowup ‘somewhat political’ by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez
Elizabeth Warren knows exactly why Silicon Valley Bank failed—and who should pay by Tristan Bove
Silicon Valley Bank implosion shows why FDIC insurance is so important. Here’s how it works, and how it could be the key to protecting your money by Alicia Adamczyk
Silicon Valley Bank deposits may be safe, but the startup ecosystem has lost a crucial partner by David Meyer
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Jackson Fordyce.
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