James O'Toole, a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, talks with Recode's Kara Swisher about his book, The Enlightened Capitalists: Cautionary Tales of Business Pioneers Who Tried to Do Well by Doing Good. O'Toole discusses the first such "enlightened capitalist," British industrialist Robert Owen; why, like Owen, do-gooder CEOs can't or won't make change today; and the history of the belief that corporations only exist to serve the shareholder. He also talks about how Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey's battle with values-adverse shareholders forced him to sell the company Amazon, and why a growing number of small companies are writing their ethical values into legally binding paperwork.
James O'Toole, professor emeritus at USC
Kara Swisher (@karaswisher), Recode co-founder and editor-at-large
More to explore:
Subscribe for free to Pivot, Kara’s podcast with NYU Professor Scott Galloway that offer sharp, unfiltered insights into the biggest stories in tech, business, and politics.
About Recode by Vox:
Recode by Vox helps you understand how tech is changing the world — and changing us.
Newsletter: Recode Daily
Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices