Jun 20, 2017

Bigger-than-life CEOs are kings no longer

Thomas Edison, GE's original head. [AP]

The United States carries less weight than it once did in international affairs. Now, the country's formerly fawned-over multi-national companies and their once-deified CEOs are on the wane, too.

Recent weeks have seen the shockingly unceremonious dethroning of once baronial CEOs Jeff Immelt of GE, Mark Fields of Ford, and Mario Lognhi of U.S. Steel, reports the New York Times. Their companies, once viewed as having all-but unlimited industrial potential, are scrambling next to Apple, Google and Facebook.

A level deeper: The shift of fortunes doesn't connote an economic advance. Given the ubiquity of their products, the tech giants seem ultra-important to society. But that's only on the level of gadgetry. In 1990, the big three Detroit carmakers racked up about $250 billion in revenue and employed 1.2 million people. In 2014, today's big Silicon Valley three made the same revenue but employed only about a tenth of the people -- just 137,000.

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Coronavirus spreads to new countries, while U.S. confirms 57 cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship — an increase they had expected after the passengers were allowed to return home from Japan against their initial advice.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There's only been two cases of person-to-person infections in the U.S. so far, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning that Americans should prepare for a much broader outbreak here.

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Space tourism gets ready for launch

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Multiple space tourism companies are aiming to send their first customers to the edge of space before the end of this year.

Why it matters: Right now, most revenue in the space industry is tied up in government contracts, but experts say the maturing industry will need tourism to grow into the $1 trillion economy some predict it could be.

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