Amazon’s 20-year story of innovation and customer-oriented growth has had its ups (like a focus on long-term planning over short-term results that has paid off for investors) and downs (like reports of a brutal culture that chews employees up). Jeff Bezos offers a fascinating glimpse of the thinking and mindset behind the company’s ascent in his annual letter to shareholders, which Recodereprinted last week.
Bezos’s mantra: Hold onto “day 1” as long as possible. Fight the idea that “day 2” has arrived. “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
A conversation with Adena Friedman, the new CEO of Nasdaq
Just one month into her tenure as the new CEO of Nasdaq, Adena Friedman stopped by NewCo Shift Forum to talk about politics, regulation, fintech competition, and the prospects for technology-related IPOs.
The first woman to ever run a major stock exchange, Friedman demonstrated a nuanced and politic touch, traits that will serve her well in the uncertain times of an early Trump administration. Watch the entire interview below, or read the transcript below, which has been edited for clarity.
Last year’s revelation that hyper-competitive, goal-crazed Wells Fargo salespeople opened millions of bogus accounts that customers never asked for already cost the bank’s CEO his job. But the fallout keeps growing. Today an outside law firm hired by the Wells board released a tough-talking report that put the onus chiefly on the banks’ former retail chief, Carrie Tolstedt (Reuters).
Wells said it would penalize Tolstedt and former CEO John Stumpf a total of $75 million more than it already has. These penalties are known on Wall Street as “clawbacks.” The label makes them sound difficult and unpleasant, which is exactly what executives want the world to think they are.
Mike Cagney, founder and CEO of SoFi, on his ambitions to get bigger (and better) than the Too Big To Fail Banks
Mike Cagney, the CEO of financial services startup SoFi, does not lack for confidence. But then again, confidence is what you need to raise billions of dollars and take on some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world — global financial giants like Chase, Citi, and Bank of America. To get there, Cagney’s got a pretty clever playbook: He’s partnering with those same banks, who buy the loans he originates and profit from SoFi’s unique skill at acquiring new customers.
In late 2006, the much younger and more naïve 21-year-old version of me graduated from the University of Melbourne. I was full of optimism, elated by hope that the career I was about to embark upon would bring me a deep personal satisfaction in life. Between 24 and 29 years of age, I took home on average about $250,000 per year. In 2016, at 31, I took home exactly zero dollars.
For a lot of people, seeing an annual payment summary like this with their own name on it would probably trigger a rush of adrenaline equivalent to skydiving from ten thousand feet. They’d probably be thinking: “Hey, I’ve done well for myself!”
I remember seeing this and feeling nothing. Not because I thought it wasn’t enough, or because I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I worked tirelessly and endlessly over those years. Fifteen-hour days were the norm. Six days a week was usual. No, it wasn’t any of that. It was because I felt like I had sold out my own personal beliefs. To understand this more, I need to tell you a bit more about me, where I came from and what I believe in.
CMO Jonathan Craig on Schwab culture, philosophy, and staying ahead of fintech competitors
Charles Schwab may be forty years old, but its founding ethos of industry disruption remains central to its mission, according to Jonathan Craig, Schwab’s CMO. In a wide ranging interview, Craig covers how the company continues to focus on cutting cost from the financial services industry, how it competes with nimble “fintech” competitors, and how to bring trust back to a sector badly damaged by its own failings during the Great Recession of 2008–2009.
The Dow hit 20,000 this week! Does anyone care? Our new president has taken credit for the “Trump bounce,” and indeed the latest market run-up started with the election results. Since its March 2009 bottom under 7000, the Dow index has roughly tripled.
At moments like this, it’s worth putting the champagne on hold to review the sober facts about the stock market (handily collected by Helaine Olen in Slate). The Dow Jones Industrial Average is fun to track but not a very good proxy for the overall economy’s health. Stock investments have been pumped up by years of zero interest rates that drove investors to seek higher returns in riskier markets. And whether the index stays aloft or returns to earth, you are unlikely to benefit from its ebullience, unless you’re already seriously rich.
Just over a week ago, on January 1st 2017, Adena Friedman officially became the CEO of Nasdaq after climbing the ranks through the company for over 20 years. Most know Nasdaq as one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, but it’s also a diversified communications and information services company (check out this interview with Vice Chair Bruce Aust for more).
Friedman started as an intern with the company, and rose quickly to a number of different responsibilities, including serving as the head of the data products division, head of corporate strategy, and Chief Financial Officer. In 2011, she took a three year stint as CFO and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, before returning to Nasdaq as its President and COO in 2014.
Most of us know that Apple, like many global corporations, has a ton of profits that it has parked overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. But we might not have been aware that Apple takes mountains of this cash and plows it back into U.S. Treasury bonds — collecting interest from the U.S. government on the money that it has stockpiled far away from the tax collectors, under a 1962 IRS loophole. That interest totals “at least $600 million and possibly much more” over the last five years, according to a Bloomberg investigation.
Bloomberg dug deep into Apple’s regulatory filings to trace this financial shell game. Apple, of course, is hardly the only player, and there is nothing illegal or even that unusual about the investment. The lesson, as Bloomberg puts it, is in the sheer opacity of global operations today: “The purchases reflect how the distinction between what’s foreign and what’s not for multinationals often exists only in the world of accounting.”