Problem Solving for Innovation: F5 & Glean CEOs, + Perspective on the Selloff
Francois Locoh-Donou of F5, Arvind Jain of Glean, S&P 500 chart from 11/26/21
Last week was a short one for me; I was in only Monday through Wednesday (so no On the Other Hand segment on Thursday), and my Working Lunch segment on Tuesday got bumped for a speech by President Biden. That means there's a lot less video in the newsletter this week.
Two things I would like to highlight off the top:
One, we're heading into the second annual Cloud Week on CNBC, a theme I first pulled together last year. As I'm typing this, I'm on a flight heading to Las Vegas for Amazon's AWS re:Invent conference; there I'm planning to speak with AWS CEO Adam Selipsky. I'm also looking forward to conversations with Microsoft Executive Vice President Jason Zander, who now leads Strategic Missions and Technologies (which includes Microsoft's U.S. federal business, telecommunications, space and quantum computing); Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman; Okta CEO Todd McKinnon; Marvell CEO Matt Murphy; Box CEO Aaron Levie; Elastic CEO Shay Banon; Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier and more. Big week.
Two, some really thought-provoking action in the stock market lately, which most recently included a selloff on Friday. About that:
Stock Market Drops and Perspective
I was on vacation Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and saw that about 90 minutes into the trading day, stocks were selling off. Were they selling off a lot? Not really. The Dow Jones Industrial Index ended the day down a bit more than 900 points, which was a lot 10 years ago, but these days is only about 2.5%. The S&P 500, a broader and more reasonable basket of stocks to represent large U.S. companies, closed down a little less than that — 2.3%. So as this was unfolding on Friday, and some people were freaking out about the drop, I posted this image on Twitter, with the message, "S&P plunges from all-time highs to last month’s all-time highs."
The image shows that Friday's selloff, sparked by fears of the new COVID variant, is a mere blip on the 12-month stock chart of the S&P 500, which has been on a tear all year. In fact, it merely takes us back to levels from last month, which were all-time highs for the index.
I didn't post this to say that the index will keep marching higher. There are reasons to be concerned about how high stock prices have gotten, and to question whether recent inflation readings, Federal Reserve actions and other factors will cool stock prices, especially in tech. But freaking out about one day's 2.3% drop won't help us think critically about those things.
F5 CEO: From Togo to France, to the U.S. and Tech Leadership
F5 CEO Francois Locoh-Donou is the son of a Togolese father and a French mother who has had to navigate multiple societies as an apparent outsider. Those experiences helped shape him as an innovator and a leader. He told me about it in a Fortt Knox 1:1:
Glean CEO: Focus on the Most Important Things
Glean CEO Arvind Jain pursued a career in engineering after some good advice from his older brother. His tech journey took him from dotcom-era Microsoft, to Silicon Valley and Google, and eventually to life as a startup founder. In a Fortt Knox 1:1, he shared how challenges in both his work and personal life gave him opportunities to rethink his focus:
Check out The Black Experience in America: The Course, an online educational resource I researched, designed and built. A free PDF download is available to bring the material to kids, and the online interactive experience is made for adults.