May 24, 2017

Ford's worried about making cars, not competing with Waymo

Alan Diaz/AP

Ford's abrupt naming of a new CEO—James Hackett, the head of its Smart Mobility division—makes it clear that the company wants to catch up in the self-driving race. In explaining the Ford board's move, NBC aptly pointed out that Waymo is ahead of the automaker (and all other self-driving car companies, for that matter) when it comes to miles driven autonomously and a good track record of safety drivers not having to intervene in cars' operations.

Apple and oranges: But these metrics aren't the only assessment of a company's potential. What's more, the two companies are more likely to work together than to compete with each other given their respective business models and core competencies.

Since Waymo became a standalone unit within Alphabet, new chief John Krafcik made it clear that it has no plans of manufacturing cars on its own—rather, it's focused on building self-driving tech for actual automakers to eventually use. And that's not to mention all the investments Ford has already made into autonomous driving tech and companies, including LiDAR maker Velodyne, and Argo.ai, an artificial intelligence startup founded by Waymo and Uber veterans.

Bottom line: If anything, chairman Bill Ford Jr.'s comments about the need for more cost cutting and streamlining reveal the real reason: Ford needs to focus on making and selling cars at a profit.

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Special report: Health care workers vs. coronavirus

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, and Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images

Health care workers are at an especially high risk of catching the coronavirus, because of their prolonged exposure to patients who have it. Making matters worse, the U.S. doesn't have enough of the protective equipment, like masks and gloves, that keeps them safe.

  • And yet these workers, with loved ones of their own, keep showing up at hospitals across the country, knowing that more Americans than they can possibly care for are depending on them.
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Backed by the Fed, bond investors get bullish

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Fed's massive injections of liquidity have reopened much of the bond market, and after back-to-back weeks in which more than $100 billion flowed out of bond funds, investors have regained their bearings and now see opportunity.

What's happening: But after the hemorrhaging outflows relented last week, bulls may now be sticking their heads out a bit too far. Junk bond funds took in more than $7 billion for the week ended April 1, according to Refinitiv Lipper, setting a new weekly record.

What top CEOs fear telling America about the coronavirus shutdown

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Top CEOs, in private conversations and pleas to President Trump, are warning of economic catastrophe if America doesn't begin planning for a phased return to work as soon as May, corporate leaders tell Axios.

Why it matters: The CEOs say massive numbers of companies, big and small, could go under if business and government don't start urgent talks about ways groups of workers can return.