Fortune February/March 2021

FORTUNE covers the entire field of business, including specific companies and business trends, tech innovation prominent business leaders, and new ideas shaping the global marketplace. FORTUNE is particularly well known for its exceptionally reliable annual rankings of companies. FORTUNE furthers understanding of the economy, provides implementable business strategy, and gives you the practical knowledge you need to maximize your own success. Fortune currently publishes 3 double issues. Each count as two of 12 issues in an annual subscription.

United States
Meredith Operations Corporation
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
worth the time

IT IS SOMETIMES HARD to fathom, in our era of instantaneity, how long the timeline can be for putting together a print magazine. Our story in this issue on the striking SolarWinds hack—by David Z. Morris and Robert Hackett, two of the most seasoned and sophisticated writers on cybersecurity that I’ve ever read—got its germination shortly after this jaw-dropping breach was reported in mid-December. Viv Walt, our senior special correspondent in Europe, began reporting on Elon Musk’s controversial Gigafactory in Germany (see “Cold-Blooded”) in the days before Thanksgiving, when she heard the brouhaha building in Berlin. If my email archive is to be believed, writer Rey Mashayekhi first pitched his feature on Wells Fargo (“Busted Stagecoach”) way back in June, after gathering string on the troubled bank in several other stories.…

12 min
albert bourla

THIS EDITED Q&A HAS BEEN CONDENSED FOR SPACE AND CLARITY. “This is why I was put in this position: to be able to take the right risk…not to be conservative and not move when the world needs us.” GOING ALL IN ON SCIENCE In early March, 2020, barely a year into your role as CEO, you made a near-instant decision to put some $2 billion of Pfizer’s money at risk to develop a coronavirus vaccine. What drove you to make that giant wager? BOURLA: It was a massive bet, but it was a very necessary one. There are not many companies that have the kind of end-to-end capabilities in vaccines that Pfizer has—ones that can start from early research and go all the way into not only manufacturing, but also distribution, which is challenging.…

6 min
is america giving up on working women?

BUSINESS. DISTILLED. In early 2020, just before the first U.S. patient was diagnosed with COVID-19, women crossed a major employment milestone. The labor market was booming. Health care, education, and other service sectors largely staffed by female workers were racing to hire more people. And for a few shining months in early 2020, government data showed that women outnumbered men in the U.S. paid workforce. Then “the whole house burned down,” says Michael Madowitz, a labor economist at the Center for American Progress. It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 closed the schools and day cares working mothers rely on for childcare, and battered many of the service-oriented businesses with majority female workforces. And in that time, the pandemic has set working women back by more than three decades—to levels of labor force…

4 min
t-mobile’s new ceo answers the call

IT’S ONE THING to take over from a successful CEO. It’s quite another to follow in the footsteps of a larger-than-life, brash-talking, Twitter-fueled leader like T-Mobile’s John Legere, who also happened to transform the company into the No. 2 carrier and the dominant player in 5G, and quintupled the stock price over his eight-year tenure. But by his side the whole time was Mike Sievert, who as of April won the top job upon Legere’s retirement. While Sievert brings a decidedly suburban Seattle dad vibe to the party, he also possesses top-notch marketing chops honed at some of America’s leading brands. To be sure, history shows that following a star exec is no easy task. Tim Cook has successfully extended Steve Jobs’ trailblazing path at Apple, but whether it’s Craig Barrett…

1 min
he wrote the book on ge

WHY WOULD Jeff Immelt write a book about his troubled tenure as General Electric’s CEO from 2001 to 2017? He confronts that question on page one. “My tenure had ended badly,” he acknowledges in the first paragraph of Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company. “My legacy was, at best, controversial … Maybe it would be better not to write a book at all.” He changed his mind in 2018; an article I wrote played an indirect role. He decided to tell the story of why he did what he did, to own up to mistakes, distill what he had learned, and defend himself against criticism he considers unmerited. He does it engagingly and candidly, emphasizing his successes while admitting to errors of judgment and action. After…

2 min
first bars, then banks?

FLOOR-TO-CEILING, the interior of Tattooed Mom is covered in graffiti. The bar, which has been open for 23 years on South Street in Philadelphia, doesn’t stop its hipster patrons from getting crafty. But even with its faithful clientele transitioning to takeout, Tattooed Mom has problems that can’t be painted over. It’s unprofitable, and sales remain down 70% from pre-pandemic levels. Robert Perry says his bar will survive, but many of its neighbors won’t. “Within a one-block radius there are six restaurants that are already gone,” he says. “Every week you read about new closures, and it breaks my heart.” Some buttoned-down bankers could soon share his pain. As the pandemic wears down bars, gyms, hotels, and other businesses, it runs the risk of causing a commercial real estate (CRE) tenant crisis,…