From tariff tiffs to Tesla tweets, 2018 was a year full of memorable talking points. Here’s a look back at some of the words that spelled out the year in business.
“I am a tariff man.” — President Donald Trump
Trump slapped $250 billion worth of tariffs on everything from tractor parts to tilapia in an escalating trade war with China. The tariffs caused turmoil in global financial markets and negatively impacted many American businesses. In October, auto giant Ford said the tariffs had already cost the company $1 billion and prompted layoffs.
“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.” — Sundar Pichai, Google CEO
After turning down invitations to testify before Congress, Google's chief executive finally agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, in December. But instead of any substantive question-and-answer sessions, the moment that defined the tech head's day on Capitol Hill was when Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, asked Pichai to explain why his granddaughter had found a profane meme featuring King on her iPhone.
"Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene for what happened in the 2016 election.” — Tristan Harris, tech ethicist
Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, has been one of the leading voices sounding the alarm on the harmful effects of technology. In January, he talked to NBC News about Facebook’s role in election meddling despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's vow to “fix” the social network in 2018.
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"I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have.” — Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer
Sandberg was forced to issue the mea culpa after a New York Times report showed the company had hired Definers, a conservative public relations firm, to smear Facebook's critics, including billionaire George Soros — all without Sandberg's apparent knowledge.
“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” — Elon Musk, Tesla CEO
Musk fired off a tweet in August letting his 23 million followers know that he had secured a deal to take Tesla private. The shock tweet sent Tesla shares soaring, but also prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission to charge Musk with misleading investors. Musk denied the charges but settled days later. He was forced to step down as Tesla’s chairman, and he and Tesla were each fined $20 million.
“I worry less about computers that think like people and more about people that think like computers, without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.” — Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Technology companies have faced increasing pressure this year to stop acting as a vehicle for hate speech. When Cook accepted the Anti-Defamation League’s first “Courage Against Hate” award, he said hate speech has no place on Apple’s platforms and said technology companies must proactively clean up their platforms. Cook has been one of the most vocal critics of his Silicon Valley neighbors this year, calling out “data hoarders” and tactics he said amount to “surveillance.”
“That’s not a good use of my time.” — Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder
The second-richest man in the world visited the White House in March and said he encouraged President Trump to fill a vacant science adviser position. After Trump asked if he was interested, Gates reportedly told the commander-in-chief he had other priorities.
“We've made a more meaningful impact in people's lives than I ever dreamed possible.” — Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO
Nooyi, one of the few female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, announced in October she was stepping down as CEO after 12 years. During her tenure, she helped bring healthier snack choices to market, made visiting grocery stories a weekly priority and was even known to write letters to employees’ parents, thanking them for raising successful adults.
"Racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication." — Sanofi tweet
Roseanne Barr blamed the sedative Ambien for the racist tweet she sent that led to her show being canceled by ABC. Sanofi, the drug manufacturer, quickly debunked Barr's claim on Twitter, earning a very healthy ratio of more than 66,000 retweets and 183,000 likes.
"I am so proud of the EEOC staff who stepped up to the heightened demand of the #MeToo movement to make clear that workplace harassment is not only unlawful, it is simply not acceptable.” — Victoria Lipnic, acting chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Reports of sexual harassment in the workplace are up more than 12 percent, according to the EEOC, the body in charge of enforcing civil rights in the workplace. The annual report, which covers the year ending on Sept. 30, also said the number of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment was up 50 percent from the previous year.