As the author of the book “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google,” NYU professor Scott Galloway has spent his fair share of time analyzing the rise of these titans of the tech industry.
Galloway, who is also the founder and CEO of L2 Inc., which analyzes the digital competence of consumer brands, spoke Thursday at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference. For 30 minutes, he took apart four of the richest companies in the world, slide by slide in his presentation deck, making the case for why each could maybe be evil, and should definitely be broken apart.
Galloway started by equating the big four to four essential organs of the human body. Google got the brain and Facebook got the heart. Galloway equated Amazon to the digestive system, and the human instinct to always want to consume more.
“More for less is the original gangster business strategy and typically the most valuable company in the world is the one that offers more for less,” Galloway said. “It’s the strategy of China, it was the strategy of Walmart and now it’s Amazon who is going to be the most valuable company in the world.”
To close out that particular exercise, Galloway relegated Apple to the sex organs, essentially saying that gadgets such as iPhones serve as status indicators to better foster procreation.
At this point, Galloway pivoted from what he calls his normal talk, tied to his book, and said that if he was to write a new chapter it would be on why these companies should be broken up.
Should we break them up because they avoid taxes? Should we break them up because they destroy jobs? Galloway isn’t sold on those arguments, but instead said that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google should be broken up “because we’re capitalists” and that he believes the markets have failed when it comes to competition.
“Does this look like a healthy retail ecosystem to you?” Galloway asked, showing a slide titled “Retail’s Anti-Christ” that showed the decline of traditional retailers such as Sears and Nordstrom and others and the rise of Amazon.
“The markets are failing in the consumer world because consumer stocks now move for three reasons,” Galloway said. “1. The underlying performance of the stock. 2. The macro-environment. 3. What Amazon is or isn’t doing in that sector. Key to robust markets is that no one player or individual has too much influence.”
Galloway then “boasted” about how he (got lucky) when he predicted that Amazon would make a transformative brick-and-mortar acquisition and buy Whole Foods. Galloway showed what that purchase did to the value of other grocery chains and how Amazon affects valuations across industries.
“Our Democracy is breaking down because these companies have become too powerful,” Galloway said. “The HQ2 thing is out of control,” he added, citing an income tax-diversion example from Chicago’s bid for the tech giant’s second headquarters. “I think our government has basically folded and said, ‘We acknowledge that you’re more powerful than us.”
Watch the whole video for more of Galloway’s biting commentary and insight into his argument.