A Review By Marc Primo Pulisci, PART I
THE FOUR is a New York Times’ bestseller by Scott Galloway that takes an insightful look into four of the 21st Century’s largest tech companies. Galloway looks at the hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, and seeks to demystify four of the most influential businesses of our time. Each of which is a serious contender to become the first trillion dollar company. If you’re interested in discovering the psychological strategies that these companies used to achieve unprecedented success, it’s well worth reading THE FOUR.
From 2013 to 2017, the combined market capitalization of these four companies amounted to $1.4 trillion equaling Russia’s GDP. This illustrates the socio-economic power of the four horses.
Galloway provides an analysis of the four-horse race between Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple to become the first trillion dollar firm. He first praises how each of these corporations has used technology, iconic leadership, speedy execution, flagrant plagiarism and bold innovations to huge effect. In his usual style he then nonchalantly and incisively reveals how these companies did not attain the successes they enjoy now all by themselves. Driven by capital and innovation the four horses have prospered within a de-regulated capitalist culture that embraces hyper-consumerism. A profit-hungry market, a waning middle class, weary institutions and attention-seeking media have also augmented the growth and market capitalization of the four horses. In The Four, Galloway explains the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook using three core ideas.
1) Circumventing Friction
Friction, in this case, refers to every impediment that stops us from satisfying our desires. These obstacles may range from guidelines issued by government and tax authorities, synaptic connections in our brains that impact our decision making and supply chains. To avoid friction, the four horses have used strategy and technology to appeal and cognize our basic needs. Galloway’s proposition suggests that each of the four firms appeal to a particular human organ. Facebook focuses on our hearts and the need for humans to develop expressive and compassionate relationships. On the other hand, Google is trained on our brains and our thirst for knowledge. Amazon centers on our guts and the human disposition to consume embedded from our hunter-gatherer origins. Apple emphasizes our sensuality and in the process produces sleek and sensual products.
2) Remaking New Economic Rules
Galloway states that the four horses have specialized in the art of reforming economic rules to serve their interests. For instance, Amazon only started making profits in 2002, and yet it has gathered more capital than any other company in history. Galloway reasons persuasively that through consistent storytelling and simplicity, Jeff Bezos has restructured investor expectations and in the process provided Amazon with vast capital reserves that come at the expense of other industry players. Google and Facebook have created their media duopoly rewriting previous economic structures. Network effects have reinforced their targeting systems and reduced their costs for advertising their products and services. Expectedly both of these firms currently constitute 103% increase in digital marketing profits. All this is taking place when the rest of the industry is in a slump.
3) Involvement in Public Services
The four are not contented with their position as leading brands and are therefore doing their best to cement their influence by providing public infrastructure hoping to become permanent fixtures in our lives. Amazon is at the head of the pack with its massive logistics network which is the envy of some small states. Amazon is involved in Trans-Pacific shipping, has a fleet of Boeings and drones and thousands of trailers. Google is not far behind with server farms; it is also launching aircrafts into the stratosphere that will send broadband to earth. Facebook has announced plans to lay cables across the Atlantic.
THE FOUR expertly blends informative insights into business psychology with entertaining, witty dialogue. Galloway himself describes the behavior of “the big four” as a cross between the behavior of Darth Vader and Ayn Rand.
PART I of Some Thoughts By Marc Primo Pulisci on THE FOUR by Scott Galloway