Question: Who wants to run a brand-new healthcare company in modern America while working for Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon simultaneously?
Did you answer “Nobody smart”? Because you’d be right!
Almost four months ago, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase announced a bold new partnership aimed at bringing down the costs of health care.
But ABC, as the group is known, has encountered a surprising challenge filling the CEO spot.
“Wow,” the most potentially awful job in the world of business remains empty, and the men who created it are flummoxed as to why.
Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett said at the company’s investor meeting earlier this month that the consortium hoped to have a CEO “within a couple of months.”
We get that Buffett and his new partners are not the kind of guy that are patient with HR, but let’s step back and look at this gig:
Todd Combs, an investment manager at Berkshire and the lead recruiter for ABC, has the challenge of finding a leader who can work across three companies with a combined 1.2 million employees and simultaneously help develop innovative solutions in a multitrillion-dollar industry. The group hasn’t said much about how it plans to leverage its size and scale to bring down costs or how it will use technology to simplify the health-care system for consumers.
As if that weren’t demanding enough, ABC is structured as an entity “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” according to the initial announcement, although it will not necessarily be a non-profit. That means Combs needs to find someone who can handle the requisite long hours, extensive travel and public scrutiny of running a high-profile start-up, but probably without the allure of a big stock incentive plan, which is typically an attractive incentive in tech recruiting.
Cool! It’s a vague and exhausting job that puts you at the apex of one of the worst industries in American business, but without the benefit of established practices, defined goals or a huge payout. And let’s not forget that your employment depends on keeping a veritable Cerberus of modern American power happy at all times.
We’re not saying that it’s hard to work for guys like Bezos, Buffett and Dimon. We’re saying that it’s excruciatingly difficult, and that working for all of them at once sounds like the emotional equivalent of waterboarding your career.
And why is this even the plan?
These guys are sitting on a combined market cap of $1.6 trillion. They can’t get together and buy an existing mid-sized payer, an existing mid-sized provider, merge them and then find someone to run it? Sure, whoever would work for these three would be the most high-functioning masochist in American business, but they would also be the greediest pain-seeker in all the land.
But then again, when it comes to health care, who could be better?