The Retirement of Amex’s Ken Chenault Means Just 3 CEOs on the Fortune 500 Are Black

His retirement was long in the making.

Credit card giant American Express announced Wednesday that Kenneth Chenault, its CEO of 16 years, was passing on the torch to younger blood: 58-year-old Stephen Squeri.

“We’re starting a new chapter from a position of strength and this is the right time to make the leadership transition to someone who’s played a central role in all that we’ve accomplished,” Chenault said of Squeri, who was previously a vice chairman at the company, in a statement. “Steve knows the industry. He knows the business and the brand. He knows the marketplace and how important the relationships we build with customers are to our success. He’s an excellent strategist and a strong leader.”

Chenault’s retirement has been long in the making. The CEO has been with American Express since 1981, and became CEO in 2001. By 2015, he had already passed on oversight of the company’s operations to his protege, Vice President Edward Gilligan. But in May, Gilligan died suddenly of a blood clot — leaving Chenault at the reins at a time when the company’s stock had fallen to a four-year low around $ 52 after losing one of it’s biggest customers: Costco. Today, the stock is trading at $ 92 a share, just off its all-time high of $ 95.

Perhaps that’s why American Express’ stock remained relatively silent on the news of Chenault’s retirement, effective Feb. 1.

Yet while American Express’ valuation did not fall as a result of Chenault’s departure, it was a loss in terms of diversity among the already largely homogenous Fortune 500 companies. Squeri is of Irish-Italian descent.

Chenault is the first black CEO to helm American Express'(number 86 on the Fortune 500). He is also one of four black CEOs on the list. That’s already down from January, when Xerox CEO Ursula Burns stepped down from her post, leaving no black women among the country’s largest companies by revenue.

With Chenault’s departure, the Fortune 500 will boast just three black CEOs: TIAA’s Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., Merck’s Kenneth C. Frazier, and J.C. Penney’s Marvin R. Ellison.

Leaders of the Fortune 500 are already overwhelming the same when it comes to the diversity figures: roughly 72% of CEOs on the Fortune 500 are white and male.

“Ken’s been the gold standard for corporate leadership and the benchmark that I measure others against. He led the company through 9/11, the financial crisis and the challenges of the last couple of years,” said Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express’ largest shareholder in a statement. “American Express always came out stronger. Ken never went for easy, short-term answers, never let day-to-day challenges distract him from what was right for the moderate to long term. No one does a better job when it really counts and he’s always done it with the highest degree of integrity.”

American Express also posted earnings Wednesday that beat expectations. The company posted earnings per share of $ 1.50 and revenue of $ 8.4 billion, above Wall Street’s expected $ 1.48 earnings per share on revenue of $ 8.3 billion.

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Exclusive: This Startup Just Nabbed $5 Million to Solve a Thorny Software Problem

Deploying business software has gotten very complex.

Backplane, a startup that says it can help companies manage the complex software deployments of the cloud computing era, has emerged from stealth with $ 5 million in seed funding—and a service it says can ease the headaches of deploying new-age software.

Now that nearly every business, whether it’s a media company or an automaker, also builds its own software for its website or employee sites, the pain of building and running business software is ubiquitous.

San Francisco-based Backplane says its newly available Backplane Core service will help those companies manage how their data flows whether it ends up running on Amazon Web Services amzn or some other cloud data center, internal data centers, or all of the above.

Company founder Blake Mizerany was the first engineer hired at Heroku, a popular software development platform purchased by Salesforce crm for $ 212 million seven years ago and, more recently, CoreOS, so he knows a lot about how software is built.

Related: This Respected Tech Exec Is Leaving Salesforce for Amazon

With companies using software containers, mixing and matching various services, and putting their processes in various clouds, the problem is how to manage an efficient and secure data flow between on-premises data centers and various clouds.

That’s a lot of complexity. Companies now have to think about what’s running in various cloud data center regions and virtual public clouds (VPCs) within those configurations. (VPCs are computing resources in a shared public cloud and cordoned off for use by a single customer.)

“Customers would ask how we did this at Heroku, and my sad answer was that we had to build all our own load balancers and proxy servers and let them spread traffic across data centers to the cloud,” Mizerany tells Fortune. The truth is that most companies don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so the new Backplane Core service, available as of now, will take that off their plate, he says.

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Byron Sebastian, Heroku’s former CEO and a former senior vice president at Salesforce, advises the company. The explosive changes in how software is built and deployed—much of it the work of companies like Heroku— has caused a bit of what he calls a “hangover.”

Related: Microsoft Expands its Azure Cloud Data Centers

“How do you manage all these different services? How do they find and secure one another? Right now, the answer to that is a lot of difficult manual labor,” Sebastian says. “Blake’s idea is to put more power into the hands of technologies and let them manage the network connectivity.”

The big promise of Backplane Core, he continues, is it will give customers one dashboard to manage that data flow, regardless of where it happens.

The seed round was led by Baseline Ventures with a contribution from Harrison Metal. Backplane and its nine employees will use the funding for further investment in sales, marketing, and product development.

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Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.

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