I decided to unsubscribe from Spotify Premium and instead buy Audiobooks to listen while I head to school, work, and my house, the result has been amazing. The first Audiobook I tuned in was The Four by Scott Galloway and after listening to it I have to admit that I was catching all types of feelings all the way to the end of the lecture. The book is mostly about the marketing skills and important business decisions that made possible the growth of the Four tech titans in the modern world: Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
My favorite chapter was the last one where insight into your personal career is compared to the development of The Four, and I was astounded and somehow scared with Amazon’s chapter. There is also a brief analysis of firms that attempt to become a tech titan to the level of the firms mentioned. Alibaba, Airbnb, Uber, and other companies are mentioned. I will now proceed to list the main ideas that I got from the audiobook.
Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty, it is not, it is the opposite of vulgarity.
Apple started as Apple Computer because at the beginning it was that, an innovative computer company. The engineering from Wozniak and some of the brightest minds in California along with the great presentation skills of Steve Jobs brought them the innovator champions insignia. It appealed to the mind of its consumers, it even used the metaphor that an Apple Computer was a bicycle for the mind. With a simple and edgy design, it started moving its appeal to the heart of people as other computer companies arrived in the market and had similar characteristics. The firm eventually dropped the Computer from the name when it realized that to thrive as an insignia brand it needed to sell more than software and design but a lifestyle.
Moreover, his founder and iconic leader Steve jobs died to become a legend and let me go through this further. Dying removes the icon from the inevitable judgment of everyday existence, including aging, and elevates persona to legend. The book gives the example of Tiger Woods, the once iconic and brilliant golf player that once was very valuable for sponsorship in Nike, if he had died before scandals hit him, we would still remember him as an iconic legend, of course, this is only good for brands and companies, but that is what the book is about. Even though in many articles we can find evidence that Steve Jobs was an awful person and that he never donated to charity and even denied his own daughter, we think of Steve Jobs as someone who totally changed the world. But you know what changes the world in my opinion, good parents and international business, not a phone with a bigger screen and four cameras.
The company integrated a streak of launches of new products while Steve Jobs was alive that changed the way we live, iTunes, the iPod, the iPad, iMac, and other variations. Since then, the innovations that the company has seen limited to the AirPods and the Apple Watch, both of them recognized as luxury products. But there is one innovation that most people don’t give much importance to Apple Stores. Located in the 5th Avenue of New York City, The Grove in Los Angeles, Champs Elysées on Paris next to Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and other luxurious brands, Apple has successfully transferred its appeal from the mind to the heart and from the heart to the genitals of humans. Don’t believe me? Imagine two twins in Starbucks, one is working with a plugged Dell Computer, the other is working with the latest Macbook Air, obviously unplugged. There is your answer. Simplicity is the spark of Apple’s luxurious appeal, and instead of advertising its new launches in Wired magazine or technology portals, the latest releases have been found in Vogue. Whilst the release of new and better iPhones drove Apple shares up, the 492 stores in exclusive shopping districts worldwide drawing more than 1 million people a day helped in building brand equity.
Facebook is the best advertising channel in the world, it provides scale and targeting. It has 2 billion worldwide users and accounts for a fifth of internet’s usage, every day we share to Facebook personal information that helps them know us better than our own friends and sell that information to Fortune 500 firms and small businesses so they can target us efficiently. Even though we share our peak moments on social media, the platform is not fooled, it knows exactly how you are feeling, and sometimes, when you have your mobile app on, it also knows with who you are and what you are talking about, and then gives you the exact shoes that you were talking about in an ad. Facebook supplies the what? (sometimes an Apple product), Google the How? and Amazon the When you will get it.
We absorb images and stories better than words, Netflix and Snapchat figured out this and grew faster than Twitter and other platforms. But Facebook was not left behind, it introduced a clone of Snapchat in every app that it holds, including Instagram. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for 1 billion USD, at the time Instagram had only 19 employees but it has been one of the best purchases in modern history. Whereas Facebook has 3 times more users than Instagram, the camera app has a higher level of engagement in its users and it can introduce new features as it can’t in any other platform. On the other hand, we have Netflix, that spends millions in producing its own content to entertain its audience or even paying for the license of certain movies and series, and yet it competes with Facebook in terms of entertainment. While Netflix spends 100 million USD for each season of The Crown, Facebook can get the attention of people for free with memes, pictures of cats, and the first-ever image of your new nephew that lives far away. To all of those advantages, we have to add up that Facebook is probably the biggest dopamine creator in the world for that same free content provided by users. By finding out you have 20 more likes in your latest post or picture dopamine are released and you become more “addicted” to Facebook.
For most of our history, humans have been animals that evolved to survive. To eat and survive, women stood with the civilization and meticulously chose the harvest that the tribe would eat later. As for Men, many times they had to gather in groups and hunt, always seeking the easiest animal first for them to stay alive. Nowadays to survive you have to eat and buy groceries, do you see any similar pattern in consumption? Jeff Bezos did, and he invested heavily in a fast way to get your groceries and anything you want with a couple of clicks.
Amazon has almost infinite capital thanks to its success and the storytelling ability of its Founder. Even though the company made profits 7 years after its foundation, it yields from the capital invested on it with the promise that even though they have had great progress, they remain on day 1. With that capital, they can either expand into other businesses that might be more profitable, like introducing Amazon Basics in its own platform, buy the first results on Google when searching for a product, or build an impressive infrastructure, one that no other competitor would be able to meet. When Amazon acquired a robotics company and automated its processes as much as possible to be handled by Robots, it saved/cut millions of jobs that could have gone to employees from Walmart and other retailers, offered a competitive price, and reduced time that going to a physical store would have taken as well as the effort that going to the store implies.
Okay, Google. Apple is considered the champion in innovation, Amazon is the champion of reputation, Facebook is one of the best firms to work, but the trust we place on Google is unrivaled. Google knows our deepest secrets and responds to all of our questions, we confess things to Google that not even our friends or family know about. 1 in 6 questions asked in Google had not been answered before, and the algorithm becomes more useful out of every query we make. Google can be considered by many a modern-God providing you with an answer to almost any question you make, whether it is how to get somewhere and how much time will it take you, the opening hours of your favorite restaurant along with reviews from other people, Images and videos from anything you want to see, and with Google Earth and the Street view of Google Maps, you can go anywhere at least virtually.
Few people can explain how Google works or what Alphabet really is. Google is a Search Engine that empowers innovation through its subsidiaries, Google X, Google Ventures, and Google Capital. Each of those subsidiaries has brilliant employees working and thinking about new ideas, whether if it is about giving internet to faraway communities through balloons, self-driven cars, a lens with internet or energy solutions in Google X; attracting capital for established startups like Uber, Slack, Lime, Jet.com, StockX, Stripe, and many others with Google Ventures. Google Capital is similar to Google Ventures but it also provides Google resources (people) to grow.
But Google’s income comes from being the best search engine and selling ads. Believe it or not, the search engine industry is now worth about half a trillion USD, and some may argue that more since Amazon is basically a search engine with a warehouse integrated. Similarly to Facebook, it sells ads according to your queries and interests, (no wonders why a bunch of ads of flights to Canada appear when I am on Youtube, using Google, or when I am on a web page that has Google Ads enabled) without major costs on content creation.
The Four are companies that have inspired economic growth and entrepreneurship all around the world. They have created thousands of well-payed jobs (even though they have cut jobs from their competitors). Their stocks’ gigantic growth has provided thousands of families with economic security. Have they become so powerful that no new company or government can take their place? Which company do you consider could enter as the fifth horseman?
Angel Escamilla Rdz