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Aug 7, 2018

DealBook Briefing: The Glass Ceiling Grows Back I Business I DealBook I NYT

DealBook Briefing: The Glass Ceiling Grows Back

Indra NooyiCreditRuben Sprich/Reuters

And then there were 24

Indra Nooyi says she will step down as PepsiCo’s C.E.O. in October. She will be remembered for her efforts to make the snack and soda giant healthier. But after 12 years in charge, she will hand over to a (male) longtime lieutenant, Ramon Laguarta. And her departure will leave just 24 women running S.&P. 500 companies — a number that keeps falling.
In an interview with the NYT, Ms. Nooyi suggested some reasons for that. “I would have loved for the board to have had a woman to pick from,” she said of her succession. “But at the end of the day, the board selects the C.E.O., and we just didn’t have any women who were ready for the job.”
Board directors, of course, remain mostly male. And in his latest column, Andrew highlights another factor, one that some female corporate leaders acknowledged but wouldn’t discuss openly. They fear that putting other women in senior positions would bring accusations of bias:
In their view, a man will be heralded for doing so while a woman’s motives might be questioned. It is worth lingering on that for a moment. If some female executives feel reticent to promote women for fear that their actions will be questioned, then the entire approach to creating more gender equality needs to be rethought.
Alex Jones of Infowars.CreditLucas Jackson/Reuters

Big Tech turns against a big conspiracy theorist

Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify (but not yet Twitter) have removed posts and videos by Alex Jones, creator of Infowars. He’s a notorious purveyor of bizarre theories — relatives of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School are suing him for defamation because he claimed the shooting was a hoax and they were actors.
Facebook and YouTube had already put limited restrictions on Infowars content. But Apple went further on Sunday, and the others then followed suit.
The move thrusts Big Tech into a debate it fears. Despite intense scrutiny for their role in the distribution of misinformation, such companies don’t want the cost, responsibility or moral stigma of regulating speech.
Until now, they’ve tried to draw the line at content likely to provoke violence. Blocking Mr. Jones suggests the line may be shifting, to exclude online harassment.
Expect bias complaints — particularly from conservatives.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.CreditArnd Wiegmann/Reuters

When the U.S. kicks Iran, allies wince

America will restore economic sanctions on Iran after backing out of its nuclear deal. European countries have responded by moving to shield businesses that work with Iran, potentially threatening the U.S.-led economic order. From Gardiner Harris and Jack Ewing of the NYT:
Some analysts worry that the Trump administration’s decision to go ahead with sanctions will encourage Europe, Russia and China to find ways around the American-led financial system and undermine the success of economic penalties in other areas.
Others aren’t as worried: Major companies like Daimler-Benz have already quit Iran, and some European institutions are quietly falling into line.
But when trade tensions between Europe and America seemed to have been easing, this doesn’t help.
More in trade news: Alcoa wants to import aluminum without paying tariffs. The parent company of Rubbermaid said tariffs could cost it $100 million. And Saudi Arabia froze trade relations with Canada for supporting a detained activist.

Facebook wants bank data, but says don’t panic

The WSJ reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources, that Facebook has spoken to banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup about sharing customer data, including card transactions and checking-account balances.
The promise was new ways for banks to interact with customers, such as fraud alerts and balance updates via Facebook Messenger. But the WSJ says “one large U.S. bank pulled away from talks due to privacy concerns.”
Facebook played down the initiative, telling Ars Technica that it was “not shoring up financial data” and didn’t plan to use it to target ads. But it now knows what sensitive ground it’s on.
Gary Cohn, right, and Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn in the Hamptons.CreditRebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Gary Cohn is in the Hamptons, jobless and happy

Mr. Cohn left the Trump administration in April, having cut taxes but failed to stop a trade war, and is now planning his next move from the Hamptons. Or as his wife, Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn, told a crowd recently: “My husband is unemployed at the moment. He’s looking for work.”
According to Amanda Gordon of Bloomberg, he’s also playing golf, writing a White House memoir and opining. About Facebook, for instance: “I think banks were more responsible citizens in ’08 than some of the social media companies are today.”
That doesn’t rule out a job in tech. “I’ve been to the West Coast, I travel quite a bit,” he told Bloomberg.
An Amazon Echo.CreditElaine Thompson/Associated Press

‘Alexa, I don’t want to buy anything’

The investor pitch from Amazon and Google is simple: Soon, we’ll all be buying things with our voices. But data obtained by the Information suggests that hardly anyone shops through a voice assistant. More from Priya Anand:
The Information has learned that only about 2 percent of the people with devices that use Amazon’s Alexa intelligent assistant — mostly Amazon’s own Echo line of speakers — have made a purchase with their voices so far in 2018, according to two people briefed on the company’s internal figures. Amazon has sold about 50 million Alexa devices, the people said. Of the people who did buy something using Alexa voice shopping, about 90 percent didn’t try it again, one of the people said.
Howard SternCreditMichael Zorn/Invision, via Associated Press

Howard Stern says Les Moonves is like a mobster

They have a past. The CBS mogul was the radio host’s boss, and sued him for $500 million when he became his former boss. So Mr. Stern marked the sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Moonves with a 45-minute tirade, at one point comparing him to Tony Soprano. More from Kimberly Nordyke of The Hollywood Reporter:
Stern added that he met with Moonves at the time to try to “explain myself to him” and became emotional during the meeting. “When I say emotional, I start crying in front of Les. I’ve never really admitted that before. I start crying, actual tears,” Stern said.

Revolving door

Joanna Coles is stepping down as chief content officer at Hearst Magazines.
Nascar’s C.E.O., Brian France, is taking indefinite leave after being charged with driving while intoxicated and illegally possessing oxycodone.

The speed read

■ The Justice Department set out its appeal case against AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, saying the judge who allowed it had ignored “fundamental principles of economics and common sense.” (NYT)
■ Carl Icahn publicly opposes Cigna’s $54 billion deal to buy Express Scripts. (His open letter)
■ Vision Fund deals pushed SoftBank’s second-quarter profits up 49 percent. (Reuters)
Politics and policy
■ Rick Gates, longtime deputy to the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, testified that he helped his former boss commit tax and bank fraud. (NYT)
■ The recent American tax cuts could mean other countries get less from U.S. companies. (WSJ)
■ New York State sued the Trump administration over a rollback in labor laws. (Bloomberg)
■ Chinese teens who have grown up without Google, Facebook or Twitter say they’re O.K. with a censored internet. (NYT)
■ Cloud computing could become a victim of the trade war. (FT)
■ Goldman Sachs might offer to hold cryptocurrency deposits. (Bloomberg)
■ China has reportedly outspent America on 5G by $24 billion since 2015. (CNBC)
Best of the rest
■ The stock market’s next $1 trillion milestone: buybacks. (DealBook)
■ Insurers don’t want to be insurers anymore. (FT)
■ Have central banks been too timid since the financial crisis? (FT)
■ America has a meat glut. (WSJ)
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