Why Many C.E.O.s Are Silent on the Biden-Trump Rematch


Three years ago, corporate leaders openly spoke out against Donald Trump over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. But as the former president leads in many polls this time around, most in the C-suite are staying quiet.

In 2021, C.E.O.s including Mary Barra of General Motors and Doug McMillon of Walmart publicly urged a peaceful transition of power. This time, leaders have largely stayed out of the political fray. Only a handful of executives have publicly supported Trump, who was willing to go after perceived enemies in corporate American when he was in office. And while there may be support for President Biden behind the scenes, few have offered it on the record.

What’s behind the silence?

A return to the norm: Executives have mentioned election-related topics 364 times in earning calls in the second quarter as of June 24, according to the data provider AlphaSense. It’s highly unlikely that tally will reach 902, the number of times the topics were mentioned in 2020 during the same period.

But this cycle is more in keeping with historical norms. In 2016, executives mentioned election-related topics 307 times, according to AlphaSense. Why was 2020 an outlier? Perhaps it was the year’s extraordinary political volatility and the unique social dynamics of the coronavirus pandemic.

The past four years have highlighted the potential danger of speaking up. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida waged war against Disney, one of his state’s biggest employers, after Bob Chapek, the media giant’s C.E.O. at the time, spoke out against the legislation in Florida that activists have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill amid employee pressure. And Republican attorneys general have attacked companies including JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock over their environmental, social and governance programs.

That political pressure has had an impact. Companies began to practice what climate advocates derisively call “greenhushing.” And corporate public statements on social issues, which became commonplace amid the rise of Black Lives Matter, became less frequent by the time of Dobbs v. Jackson and the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel.

Trump is weighing heavily on C.E.O.s’ minds, especially as polls show a close race in November.

When Trump was in the White House, he could shave billions off of a company’s market value with just one tweet. If he wins again — or even if he doesn’t — few company leaders want to put themselves in his cross hairs. (By contrast, while Biden has lashed out broadly at “corporate greed,” he has tended not to bully specific companies.)

“He might be the president. I have to deal with that, too,” Jamie Dimon told Andrew at the DealBook Summit in November when asked if he was a Never Trumper after he urged others to back Nikki Haley’s campaign. Dimon later told Andrew at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that Trump did some things right, and urged Democrats to be “more respectful” of the Republican’s supporters.

Will C.E.O.s change their mind? They may, some believe: They’re saving their dry powder,” one corporate adviser told DealBook. But like in 2021, that might require extraordinary circumstances.

Unless that happens, the biggest sound from the C-suite may continue to be none at all.

Rivian’s stock surges after a multibillion-dollar Volkswagen deal. Shares in the electric vehicle maker are up more than 35 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday after it announced that Volkswagen would invest up to $5 billion and that the companies would collaborate on car software. The two have struggled to make money on their capital-intensive E.V. strategies.

Bernard Arnault and LVMH make high-end investments. The billionaire C.E.O. of the luxury giant is said to have personally bought shares in Richemont, the rival Swiss conglomerate that owns Cartier, igniting takeover speculation, The Financial Times reports. Separately, LVMH has acquired the owner of L’Epée 1839, a Swiss manufacturer of ornate clocks, adding it to a watchmaking division that includes brands like Tag Heuer and Hublot.

The bidding war over Vista Outdoor ramps up again. MNC Capital just raised its takeover offer for the sports equipment and ammunition maker to $3.2 billion, or $42 a share, despite the company repeatedly rejecting its approaches. The move came after Vista announced that a deal to sell its ammo business to the Czechoslovak Group — its preferred transaction — won national security approval.

Primary voters deliver a blow to progressive Democrats and a boost right-wing Republicans. Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York, a staunch critic of Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza, lost to George Latimer, a Westchester County executive, in a campaign that exposed deep divisions in the Democratic Party. Representative Lauren Boebert, the MAGA lawmaker, won a crowded Republican primary in Colorado.

The art-house studio behind some of the buzziest movies and TV shows of the past decade — think “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Moonlight” and “Euphoria” — is getting even bigger.

A24 has raised its second round of equity financing, led by Thrive Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Josh Kushner. It’s the latest bet that A24 can keep up its winning streak.

The investment values A24 at about $3.5 billion, about 40 percent above the valuation of the studio’s last fund-raising round, DealBook hears. (Thrive and the round’s other participants, including existing A24 backers, invested about $100 million.) The last round, in 2022, raised $225 million from investors including Stripes and Neuberger Berman.

As part of the investment, Kushner will join A24’s board. “In A24, we see a company bringing extraordinary talent and creativity together with business model and technology innovation to reinvent entertainment for the modern age,” his firm said in a statement.

The fund-raising round comes after another round of successes for A24. In May, the studio’s “Civil War” became its second movie to surpass $100 million at the global box office. The first, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” won seven Academy Awards last year, including best picture. A24 has also sold TV series to the likes of Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

The studio is known for its eccentric, attention-grabbing marketing and a devoted fan base, including some willing to pay $5 a month in the U.S. for the AAA24 membership program. That business model has made A24 profitable, DealBook hears.

Its new backer has a history of investing in companies on the cusp of accelerated growth. Among Thrive’s signature investments are Instagram, Warby Parker, Kim Kardashian’s Skims and OpenAI. Kushner has also personally invested in media businesses, including Life magazine — where he is the publisher — i-D and W magazines.

Thrive and A24 also share some characteristics, including their executives’ general aversion to publicity.

The new capital will help pay for an ambitious expansion effort. A24’s upcoming titles include “The Smashing Machine,” starring Dwayne Johnson, and “High and Low,” a thriller by Spike Lee starring Denzel Washington that Apple picked up.

The investment could also provide crucial ballast for the studio at a time when box office successes are harder to come by and streaming services are tightening their belts.


The Internal Revenue Service has offered a rare public apology for a data leak that revealed the tax return details of Ken Griffin, the billionaire investor, and thousands of other affluent taxpayers.

The statement appears to draw a line under a legal battle. Griffin, the Citadel founder, sued the government in 2022 to force the agency to acknowledge its mistakes and to improve data security. The sides settled, and the I.R.S. published its apology on Tuesday.

A recap: Charles Littlejohn, an I.R.S. contractor, obtained the tax details of Griffin and others, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and disclosed them to ProPublica, which published the findings in a series of articles. Littlejohn, who was also accused of leaking Donald Trump’s tax documents to The Times, was sentenced to five years in prison in January.

The I.R.S. acknowledged internal failures. Littlejohn “violated the terms of his contract and betrayed the trust that the American people place in the I.R.S. to safeguard their sensitive information,” the agency said. The I.R.S. added it had “made substantial investments in its data security to strengthen its safeguarding of taxpayer information.”

Griffin said that it was “an outcome that will better protect American taxpayers and that will ultimately benefit all Americans.”

The I.R.S.’s mea culpa drew applause from some conservatives. The settlement comes as the agency — and now its watchdog — are embroiled in a partisan feud over how the agency has handled the tax-exemption status of right-wing political organizations.


Amid all of the worries about what artificial intelligence will do to jobs, one sector is experiencing a surge in employment: management consulting.

A.I.-related work is padding the profits for some of the biggest firms, even as the tech industry is still working out how to make money from it, reports The Times’s Tripp Mickle. The cash influx comes after a pandemic lull for the consulting industry. In the U.S. alone, the sector is expected to collect more than $390 billion in sales this year, up 2 percent from a year ago, according to IBISWorld, a research firm.

Here are some numbers behind the boom:

  • Work related to A.I. now accounts for a fifth of Boston Consulting Group’s revenue, up from zero two years ago.

  • IBM sees more than $1 billion in sales commitments related to generative A.I.

  • Accenture booked $300 million in sales related to generative A.I. last year.

  • About 40 percent of McKinsey’s business this year will be generative A.I. related.

  • KPMG International targeted more than $650 million in generative A.I. business over the past six months, up from zero a year ago.

Some see echoes of the dot-com boom. “In the mid-90s, C.E.O.s would say, ‘I don’t know what a website is or what it could do for my business, but I need it,’” said Nigel Vaz, the C.E.O. of the digital consulting firm Publicis Sapient. “This is similar. Companies are saying: ‘Don’t tell me what to build. Tell me what you can build.’”

Deals

  • Norway’s largest private pension fund sold its $69 million stake in Caterpillar, citing concerns that the company’s equipment was involved in potential human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. (Bloomberg)

  • DoorDash reportedly held takeover talks with Deliveroo, a British counterpart, but discussions broke down over a disagreement on valuation. (Reuters)

  • KKR bought more than 5,200 apartments across the U.S. for $2.1 billion, its biggest deal yet in the sector. (WSJ)

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