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January 19, 2022

Good morning.


The battle for talent continues to be a dominant theme for business in 2022, driving a focus on pay, perks, purpose and workplace flexibility.


It’s also driving increased investment in automation, according to UiPath, a leading provider of RPA (robotic process automation). People used to worry about how automation would lead to a lack of jobs. But in today’s heated labor market, the equation has been reversed. A survey commissioned by the company found that 78% of executives are “very” or “somewhat likely” to invest more in automation to offset the impact of the labor shortage.


“Automation presents a truly strategic solution for the kind of challenges presented by secular trends like the global labor shortage and supply chain constraints,” UiPath CEO Daniel Dines told me. “That’s why enterprises across industries are turning to it to eliminate tasks employees dread doing, reducing their workloads and empowering them to reach their full potential.”


Separately, it’s a big day for Fortune, with two pieces of news to announce:


—FORTUNE Brand Studio this morning is launching a new video series, produced in partnership with Salesforce, entitled The Ecopreneurs, highlighting entrepreneurs using creative business models to address environmental problems. First up in this 12-episode series: a fascinating look at SeaTrees and its CEO Michael Stewart, who is working to restore the ocean’s kelp, mangrove, and seagrass populations, capable of sequestering 2 billion tons of carbon each year. If you have never gone diving in a kelp forest, you can do so virtually here. It’s 11 minutes well spent.


—FORTUNE Education is publishing its newest rankings for graduate programs in data science and business analytics—the hottest job areas in the heated talent battle mentioned above. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign took top honors for graduate programs in data science. Texas A&M won the pole position for business analytics. You can find both lists—and other articles, insights, recommendations and rankings that can lift your career—at fortune.com/education.


All part of our effort to make business better. More news below.



Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com


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TOP NEWS


Microsoft and Activision


Microsoft is going to buy Activision Blizzard, the embattled game-maker, for $68.7 billion—if antitrust regulators approve the deal, that is. CEO Bobby Kotick, who is both associated with and trying to clean up a company culture that's been rife with sexual harassment and misconduct, will stay on and quite likely get a $375 million windfall. In fact, Kotick's mess appears to be one thing that prompted the takeover, though he's framing it as a "metaverse" play. Either way, Sony's suffering. Fortune


Airlines and 5G


Following warnings from Boeing about AT&T and Verizon's 5G network expansions messing with altimeters, airlines including Emirates, Japan Airlines and ANA have cancelled some 777 flights to the U.S. All this despite the fact that AT&T and Verizon have agreed yet again to suspend the planned (and expensive) use of new 5G frequencies near U.S. airports. Fortune


Antitrust reform


The Justice Department and FTC have begun the process of reforming U.S. merger guidelines, with a call for public comment on modernization. The agencies appear to be considering new rules that put more emphasis on non-price-related aspects of competition, such as effects on innovation and quality. (Bonus read: Apple's lobbyists are trying to claim that Big Tech antitrust reform will damage privacy.) CNBC


Crypto.com


The Matt Damon-endorsed cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com was allegedly hacked, prompting it to assure customers that none of their funds have been lost. However, blockchain security researchers say the platform lost millions, particularly in ether. Fortune



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AROUND THE WATER COOLER


Nasdaq peril


If it closes around 51 points down today, the Nasdaq will officially be in correction territory. In this piece, Fortune's Bernhard Warner explains what's buffeting tech stocks these days. Fortune


Exxon ambition


ExxonMobil claims it will hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050—but only by ignoring the emissions that stem from use of its products. It’s a common trick, and one that Fortune's Eamon Barrett analyzes in this piece. Fortune


Crypto advertising


Spain and the U.K. are cracking down on predatory ads for crypto assets. Authorities there are concerned that people have incorrect ideas about what they're getting for their money, with some even thinking there's regulatory protection for their investments. Fortune


Gig economy


An interesting piece here on how staffing agencies have become embedded in the U.K. gig economy: "Academics who study the platform economy are concerned that outsourcing’s main purpose is to shield well-known gig economy companies—which receive more scrutiny—from blame when workforce problems inevitably arise." Wired


This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.


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