December 27, 2021

Good Monday morning. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,090 words ... 4½ minutes. Edited by Justin Green.

💰Situational awareness: Jared Kushner's global investment firm, Miami-based Affinity Partners, has raised more than $3 billion in commitments from international investors, Reuters' Steve Holland reports.

  • Why it matters: Kushner hopes to create an "investment corridor" between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

1 big thing: CEOs' big fear

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

72% of CEOs worry about losing their jobs due to disruptions facing their industries, Axios business editor Kate Marino writes from a survey out today from the global consulting firm AlixPartners.

  • Why it matters: That's a jump of 20 points from a year ago, when 52% of CEOs told AlixPartners they were anxious about job security.

What's happening: The frenetic pace of change in businesses and the world has accelerated during the pandemic — spiking CEO anxiety.

  • 94% of the executives said their business models need to change within the next three years — but 57% fear their company isn't adapting fast enough.

Zoom in: Overhauling global supply chains for today and the future, and reimagining recruitment and retention while skills needs change rapidly, were top of mind for CEOs this year.

  • That’s while digital transformation reshapes the workflow for companies — and even the disruptors get disrupted, AlixPartners CEO Simon Freakley told Axios.

Between the lines: CEOs are paid hundreds of times the average worker's wages to worry more than the rest of us.

2. Scoop: New $ tactic

The candidate's NFT shows this early cover art. Photo: Blake Masters for Senate

Blake Masters — co-author of tech pioneer Peter Thiel's blockbuster "Zero to One," and now a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Arizona — today launches an innovation in political fundraising:

  • He's offering top donors NFTs, the hot digital tokens — and bringing scarcity to the party with a limit of 99 copies.

Why it matters: Masters, 35, told me the plan is to attract support "from folks who are less conventional political donors and more founders and builders who want to see new thinking and new energy in our politics."

What's happening: Masters is leaning into his Silicon Valley ties with an "Origins NFT" that shows a rotating rendition of the early cover art he used to help persuade Thiel, his former Stanford Law professor, to collaborate on "Zero to One," published in 2014.

  • The NFTs will go to donors who give the maximum of $5,800 — half for the primary, and half for the general election if he wins.

Zoom out: Masters, who lives in his native Tucson, helps run Thiel Capital, a multibillion-dollar firm that invests in tech startups, and is president of the Thiel Foundation.

  • The Republican primary also includes Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Both aim to take on Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
  • Masters — who was a guest on Tucker Carlson's show last week — held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that included former President Trump as a speaker. That gives Masters' camp hope for an endorsement.

Between the lines: The idea is to give donors a sense of ownership. Real-life events are planned for the virtual club.

See the NFT ... Share this story.

3. 🛍️ Shoppers defy Omicron

Santa sports a shield at Easton Town Center mall in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Holiday sales rose at the fastest pace in 17 years — with clothing and jewelry as top drivers, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: That's despite higher prices, product shortages, and the rise of Omicron in the season's final month.

Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, said yesterday that holiday sales had risen 8.5% from a year earlier.

  • Holiday sales were up 10.7% compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday period.

Online sales were up 11% from a year ago and 61% from 2019.

  • Department stores registered a 21% increase over 2020.

👀 What we're watching: Target CEO Brian Cornell recently told AP it will take "a number of years" for supply chain clogs to clear.

4. 📷 First in a series: 2021 in 5 photos

Photo: Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times. Licensed from The New York Times

Each day this week, I'll bring you 1 incredible photo that helps capture the epic year of 2021 — a year our kids' kids' kids will study.

  • Then on New Year's, I'll feature a photo that's my wish for your '22.

Above: Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman stands firm as rioters push toward the Senate chamber during the Jan. 6 siege in the United States Capitol.

  • Why it matters: "Goodman’s selfless and quick-thinking actions doubtlessly saved lives and bought security personnel precious time to secure and ultimately evacuate the Senate before the armed mob breached the Chamber," the Senate said in awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Goodman and others who protected the Capitol.

5. Women rule media

Screenshot: CNN

On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter recognized the historic field of women named to lead huge news organizations this year, including Axios editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani Goo.

6. Great read: Dan Bongino's lucrative quest for a Trump restoration

Dan Bongino in Stuart, Fla. Photo: Calla Kessler for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Delving into the persistent but elusive power of AM talk radio, The New Yorker's Evan Osnos profiles conservative powerhouse Dan Bongino, "MAGA-PHONE":

His aesthetics, visually and editorially, bespeak his political moment. Limbaugh, the dominant conservative pundit for three decades, was a dedicated indoorsman, with a physique that celebrated sybaritic contentment. Bongino, at forty-seven, is six feet tall and muscle-bound, with a martial buzz cut and a trim goatee.
Like others in his cohort — including the podcaster Joe Rogan and the Infowars host Alex Jones — he favors a wardrobe of tight T-shirts. He displays a tattoo on his left biceps, and he often broadcasts with a facial expression that resembles the angry emoji. Asked by a fan what he would do if he were not a political commentator, Bongino said that he would compete in mixed martial arts.

"In one of our calls," Osnos writes, "I asked why he was bothering to talk to me at all."

  • "I at least get my say in there," Bongino said. "The reality is, I've got a bigger footprint than you guys by tenfold, if not twentyfold. I don't want to be an asshole about it, but there's nothing you can write that I can't write back even worse. It's asymmetric warfare. You'll never win."

Osnos' bottom line: "Spend several months immersed in American talk radio and you’ll come away with the sense that the violence of January 6th was not the end of something but the beginning."

7. 🐦 Tweets du jour

8. 🌞 1 smile to go: Quarantine Christmas

Photo: Bernard Wright (brother of Tom and Peter), via Twitter. Used by kind permission

Brookings' Tom Wright tweets: "Back in Ireland for Christmas and have to give my incredible brother Peter a shout out. He had a Covid close contact so couldn't attend Christmas dinner so pulled up a van by the dining room window in torrential rain, fitting it out w/ lights and a table, and ate alongside us."

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