July 13, 2018

Book Reflection: The Four by Scott Galloway

No introductions are needed for the four horsemen that take center stage in this book. As consumers, many of us consider the products and services that these four companies offer as integral in our daily lives. From using Google Maps to get to the nearest Wholefoods, to chatting with friends on WhatsApp using your iPhone.

The Four by Scott Galloway
The Four by Scott Galloway

In my line of work, I have worked directly with 3 of the four horsemen (Google, Facebook and Amazon). The first two dominate the digital advertising landscape while Amazon is doing its best to quickly catch up.

This book attempts to pull the curtain back and reveal some secrets behind the success of these four companies. Mr Galloway takes a deep dive into what makes these companies succeed and his view on their plans to continue their global domination.

The four horsemen are destroying the middle class and creating a new elite

Mr Galloway argues that the companies that have gone out of business because of the four horsemen have resulted in the destruction of thousands of jobs which have been replaced by fewer, albeit higher paying jobs.

This creates a new elite. A smaller class of educated and geographically concentrated group of people who reap the rewards and wealth created by the four horsemen at the expense of the old middle class.

The four horsemen have access to cheaper capital

They have access to cheaper capital because of their high valuations making it easier to take side bets on projects that will further cement their position. 

The cheaper capital also lowers the risk for them, while more traditional companies are strapped down by more expensive capital and more traditional industry benchmarks that must be met to satisfy shareholders.

The four horsemen also have access to the best talent

Everyone wants to work in Google, Facebook, Amazon or Apple. Pop culture has only added to the myth that only the best come to work at The Four.

The graphic showing how many people from WPP who have jumped to these four companies vs how many people who have jumped from them to WPP (the largest communications company in the world) was an eye opener for me. Hint, it was pretty one-sided.

Final thoughts

The book is a great read and is especially relevant today as these four companies continue to grow and become entrenched into our daily lives.

In my mind, there is no doubt about the value and innovation that these four companies have brought forward. While some jobs may have been lost, these four companies have created jobs in new industries that would not have existed before. Think about the thousands of people who develop apps for the App Store or the thousands who make a living as YouTube/Twitch/Instagram influencers.

All four companies (and a handful of others) have provided humans today with many tools that have made everyday life better.

As regular people, we need to be able to find the balance between the convenience and value these four companies offer versus compromising our own beliefs and sharing our private information/data.
Everyone can opt-in or opt-out of the products and services offered by The Four. 

Reading this book gives us more information so we can make our own choice.