The Four: discount The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, popular Facebook, and Google sale

The Four: discount The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, popular Facebook, and Google sale

The Four: discount The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, popular Facebook, and Google sale

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY 
BESTSELLER


Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are the four most influential companies on the planet. Just about everyone thinks they know how they got there. Just about everyone is wrong. 

For all that’s been written about the Four over the last two decades, no one has captured their power and staggering success as insightfully as Scott Galloway.

Instead of buying the myths these compa­nies broadcast, Galloway asks fundamental questions. How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid (or boycott)? Why does the stock market forgive them for sins that would destroy other firms? And as they race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, can anyone chal­lenge them?

In the same irreverent style that has made him one of the world’s most celebrated business professors, Galloway deconstructs the strategies of the Four that lurk beneath their shiny veneers. He shows how they manipulate the fundamental emotional needs that have driven us since our ancestors lived in caves, at a speed and scope others can’t match. And he reveals how you can apply the lessons of their ascent to your own business or career.

Whether you want to compete with them, do business with them, or simply live in the world they dominate, you need to understand the Four.

Review

“An existential alarm bell wrapped in a business lesson wrapped in an entertaining and often hilarious (and, yes, occasionally blue-languaged) series of stories built with great writing. It keeps you entertained to make sure you’re informed.” – 800-CEO-READ

“Galloway takes the reader through a refreshingly clear-eyed look at the nature of dominance at Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google. He is interested in how these companies become more valuable with use instead of less, how they benefit from low cost of capital and the implications for things [that] could further strengthen their dominance.” Brad Stone, Bloomberg Technology 

“As the power of technology’s biggest companies comes under more scrutiny, NYU business professor Galloway reveals how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google built massive empires.” —Publishers Weekly, “The Top 10 Business Books of Fall 2017”

"This is that rare book that not only informs but entertains. You''ll never look at these four companies the same way again." - Jonah Berger, author of Contagious

“Scott Galloway is honest, outrageous, and provocative. This book will trigger your flight-or-fight nervous system like no other and in doing so challenge you to truly think differently.” —Calvin McDonald, CEO of Sephora

“The Four is an essential, wide-ranging powerhouse of a book that, like Scott Gal­loway himself, marries equal parts incisive, entertaining, and biting. As in his leg­endary MBA lectures, Galloway tells it like it is, sparing no business titan and no juggernaut corporation from well-deserved criticism. A must read.” —Adam Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink   

“If there is a blunter, more opinionated, faster-talking expert on the Internet than Scott Galloway, I haven’t come across him. Or her.” —Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Fortune

“Scott Galloway’s The Four is a bareback ride upon the four horses of the economic apocalypse – Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. It is a timely exposition of the nature and concentration of power in the world today and, as a result, is much more than just a business book…The book contains more insights and provocative ideas than Amazon has Boeing 767s… My recommendation is to walk down to your local book store and buy this – or more likely, buy it on Amazon.”
Tom Upchurch , Wired

About the Author

Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing to second-year MBA students. A serial entre­preneur, he has founded nine firms, including L2, Red Envelope, and Prophet. In 2012, he was named one of the “World’s 50 Best Busi­ness School Professors” by Poets & Quants. His weekly YouTube series, “Winners and Losers,” has generated tens of millions of views. This is his first book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

The Four

Over the last twenty years, four technology giants have inspired more joy, connections, prosperity, and discovery than any entity in history. Along the way, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have created hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs. The Four are responsible for an array of products and services that are entwined into the daily lives of billions of people. They''ve put a supercomputer in your pocket, are bringing the internet into developing countries, and are mapping the Earth''s land mass and oceans. The Four have generated unprecedented wealth ($2.3 trillion) that, via stock ownership, has helped millions of families across the planet build economic security. In sum, they make the world a better place.

The above is true, and this narrative is espoused, repeatedly, across thousands of media outlets and gatherings of the innovation class (universities, conferences, congressional hearings, boardrooms). However, consider another view.

The Four Horsemen

Imagine: a retailer that refuses to pay sales tax, treats its employees poorly, destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs, and yet is celebrated as a paragon of business innovation.

A computer company that withholds information about a domestic act of terrorism from federal investigators, with the support of a fan following that views the firm similar to a religion.

A social media firm that analyzes thousands of images of your children, activates your phone as a listening device, and sells this information to Fortune 500 companies.

An ad platform that commands, in some markets, a 90 percent share of the most lucrative sector in media, yet avoids anti-competitive regulation through aggressive litigation and lobbyists.

This narrative is also heard around the world, but in hushed tones. We know these companies aren''t benevolent beings, yet we invite them into the most intimate areas of our lives. We willingly divulge personal updates, knowing they''ll be used for profit. Our media elevate the executives running these companies to hero status-geniuses to be trusted and emulated. Our governments grant them special treatment regarding anti-trust regulation, taxes, even labor laws. And investors bid their stocks up, providing near-infinite capital and firepower to attract the most talented people on the planet or crush adversaries.

So, are these entities the Four Horsemen of god, love, sex, and consumption? Or are they the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse? The answer is yes to both questions. I''ll just call them the Four Horsemen.

How did these companies aggregate so much power? How can an inanimate, for-profit enterprise become so deeply ingrained in our psyche that it reshapes the rules of what a company can do and be? What does unprecedented scale and influence mean for the future of business and the global economy? Are they destined, like other business titans before them, to be eclipsed by younger, sexier rivals? Or have they become so entrenched that nobody-individual, enterprise, government, or otherwise-stands a chance?

State of Affairs

This is where the Four stand at the time of this writing:

Amazon: Shopping for a Porsche Panamera Turbo S or a pair of Louboutin lace pumps is fun. Shopping for toothpaste and eco-friendly diapers is not. As the online retailer of choice for most Americans, and increasingly, the world, Amazon eases the pain of drudgery-getting the stuff you need to survive. No great effort: no hunting, little gathering, just (one) clicking. Their formula: an unparalleled investment in last-mile infrastructure, made possible by an irrationally generous lender-retail investors who see the most compelling, yet simple, story ever told in business: Earth''s Biggest Store. The story is coupled with execution that rivals D-Day (minus the whole courage and sacrifice to save the world part). The result is a retailer worth more than Walmart, Target, Macy''s, Kroger, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Coach, Williams-Sonoma, Tesco, Ikea, Carrefour, and The Gap combined.

As I write this, Jeff Bezos is the third wealthiest person in the world. He will soon be number one. The current gold and silver medalists, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are in great businesses (software and insurance), but neither sits on top of a company growing 20 percent plus each year, attacking multibillion dollar sectors like befuddled prey.

Apple: The Apple logo, which graces the most coveted laptops and mobile devices, is the global badge of wealth, education, and Western values. At its core, Apple fills two instinctual needs: to feel closer to God and be more attractive to the opposite sex. It mimics religion with its own belief system, objects of veneration, cult following, and Christ figure. It counts among its congregation the most important people in the world: the Innovation Class. By achieving a paradoxical goal in business-a low-cost product that sells for a premium price-Apple has become the most profitable company in history. The equivalent is an auto firm with the margins of Ferrari and the production volumes of Toyota. In Q4 of 2016, Apple registered twice the net profits Amazon has produced, in total, since its founding twenty-three years ago. Apple''s cash on hand is nearly the GDP of Denmark.

Facebook: As measured by adoption and usage, Facebook is the most successful thing in the history of mankind. There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and 1.2 billion people have a daily relationship with Facebook. Facebook (#1), Facebook Messenger (#2), and Instagram (#8) are the most popular mobile apps in the United States. The social network and its properties register fifty minutes of a user''s typical day. One of every six minutes online is spent on Facebook, and one in five minutes spent on mobile is on Facebook.

Google: Google is a modern man''s god. It''s our source of knowledge-ever-present, aware of our deepest secrets, reassuring us where we are and where we need to go, answering questions from trivial to profound. No institution has the trust and credibility of Google: About one out of six queries posed to the search engine have never been asked before. What rabbi, priest, scholar, or coach has so much gravitas that he or she is presented with that many questions never before asked of anybody? Who else inspires so many queries of the unknown from all corners of the world?

A subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., in 2016, Google earned $20 billion in profits, increased revenues 23 percent, and lowered cost to advertisers 11 percent-a massive blow to competitors. Google, unlike most products, ages in reverse, becoming more valuable with use. It harnesses the power of 2 billion people, twenty-four hours a day, connected by their intentions (what you want) and decisions (what you chose), yielding a whole infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. The insights into consumer behavior Google gleans from 3.5 billion queries each day make this horseman the executioner of traditional brands and media. Your new favorite brand is what Google returns to you in .0000005 second.

Show Me the Trillions

While billions of people derive significant value from these firms and their products, disturbingly few reap the economic benefits. General Motors created economic value of approximately $231,000 per employee (market cap/workforce). This sounds impressive until you realize that Facebook has created an enterprise worth $20.5 million per employee . . . or almost a hundred times the value per employee of the organizational icon of the last century. Imagine the economic output of a G-10 economy, generated by the population of Manhattan''s Lower East Side.

The economic value accretion seems to be defying the law of big numbers and accelerating. In the last four years, April 1, 2013-April 1, 2017, the Four increased in value by approximately $1.3 trillion (GDP of Russia).

Other tech companies, old and new, big and bigger, are losing relevance. Aging behemoths, including HP and IBM, barely warrant the attention of the Four. Thousands of start-ups fly by like gnats hardly worth swatting at. Any firm that begins to show the potential to bother the Four is acquired-at prices lesser companies can''t imagine. (Facebook paid nearly $20 billion for five-year-old, fifty-employee instant messaging company WhatsApp.) Ultimately, the only competitors the Four face are . . . each other.

Safety in Hatred

Governments, laws, and smaller firms appear helpless to stop the march, regardless of the Four''s impact on business, society, or the planet. However, there''s safety in hatred. Specifically, the Four hate each other. They are now competing directly, as their respective sectors are running out of easy prey.

Google signaled the end of the brand era as consumers, armed with search, no longer need to defer to the brand, hurting Apple, who also finds itself competing with Amazon in music and film. Amazon is Google''s largest customer, but it''s also threatening Google in search-55 percent of people searching for a product start on Amazon (vs. 28 percent on search engines such as Google). Apple and Amazon are running, full speed, into each other in front of us, on our TV screens and phones, as Google fights Apple to be the operating system of the product that defines our age, the smartphone.

Meanwhile, both Siri (Apple) and Alexa (Amazon) have entered the thunderdome, where two voices enter, and only one will leave. Among online advertisers, Facebook is now taking share from Google as it completes the great pivot from desktop to mobile. And the technology likely creating more wealth over the next decade, the cloud-a delivery of hosted services over the internet that can be spun up/down based on users'' needs-features the Ali vs. Frazier battle of the tech age as Amazon and Google go head-to-head with their respective cloud offerings.

The Four are engaged in an epic race to become the operating system for our lives. The prize? A trillion-dollar-plus valuation, and power and influence greater than any entity in history.

So What?

To grasp the choices that ushered in the Four is to understand business and value creation in the digital age. In the first half of this book we''ll examine each horseman and deconstruct their strategies and the lessons business leaders can draw from them.

In the second part of the book, we''ll identify and set aside the mythology the Four allowed to flourish around the origins of their competitive advantage. Then we''ll explore a new model for understanding how these companies exploit our basest instincts for growth and profitability, and show how the Four defend their markets with analog moats: real-world infrastructure designed to blunt attacks from potential competitors.

What are the horsemen''s sins? How do they manipulate governments and competitors to steal IP? That''s in chapter 8. Could there ever be a Fifth Horseman? In chapter 9, we''ll evaluate the possible candidates, from Netflix to China''s retail giant Alibaba, which dwarfs Amazon on many metrics. Do any of them have what it takes to develop a more dominant platform?

Finally, in chapter 10, we''ll look at what professional attributes will help you thrive in the age of the Four. And in chapter 11, I''ll talk about where the Four are taking us.

Alexa, Who Is Scott Galloway?

According to Alexa, "Scott Robert Galloway is an Australian professional football player who plays as a fullback for Central Coast Mariners in the A-League."

That bitch . . .

Anyway, while not a fullback, I''ve had a front-row seat to the Hunger Games of our age. I grew up in an upper-lower middle-class household, raised by a superhero (single mother) who worked as a secretary. After college I spent two years at Morgan Stanley in a misguided attempt to be successful and impress women. Investment banking is an awful job, full stop. In addition, I don''t have possess the skills-maturity, discipline, humility, respect for institutions-to work in a big firm (that is, someone else), so I became an entrepreneur.

After business school, I founded Prophet, a brand strategy firm that has grown to 400 people helping consumer brands mimic Apple. In 1997, I founded Red Envelope, a multichannel retailer that went public in 2002 and was slowly bled to death by Amazon. In 2010, I founded L2, a firm that benchmarks the social, search, mobile, and site performance of the world''s largest consumer and retail brands. We use data to help Nike, Chanel, L''Oreal, P&G, and one in four of the world''s one hundred largest consumer firms scale these four summits. In March 2017, L2 was acquired by Gartner (NYSE: IT).

Along the way, I''ve served on the boards of media companies (The New York Times Company, Dex Media, Advanstar)-all getting crushed by Google and Facebook. I also served on the board of Gateway, which sold three times more computers annually than Apple, at a fifth the margin-it didn''t end well. Finally, I''ve also served on the boards of Urban Outfitters and Eddie Bauer, each trying to protect their turf from the great white shark of retail, Amazon.

However, my business card, which I don''t have, reads "Professor of Marketing." In 2002, I joined the faculty of NYU''s Stern School of Business, where I teach brand strategy and digital marketing and have taught over six thousand students. It''s a privileged role for me, as I''m the first person, on either side of my family, to graduate from high school. I''m the product of big government, specifically the University of California, which decided, despite my being a remarkably unremarkable kid, to give me something remarkable: upward mobility through a world-class education.

The pillars of a business school education-which (remarkably) does accelerate students'' average salaries from $70,000 (applicants) to $100,000 plus (graduates) in just twenty-four months-are Finance, Marketing, Operations, and Management. This curriculum takes up students'' entire first year, and the skills learned serve them well the rest of their professional lives. The second year of business school is mostly a waste: elective (that is, irrelevant) courses that fulfill the teaching requirements of tenured faculty and enable the kids to drink beer and travel to gain fascinating (worthless) insight into "Doing Business in Chile," a real course at Stern that gives students credits toward graduation.

We require a second year so we can charge tuition of $110,000 vs. $50,000 to support a welfare program for the overeducated: tenure. If we (universities) are to continue raising tuition faster than inflation, and we will, we''ll need to build a better foundation for the second year. I believe the business fundamentals of the first year need to be supplemented with similar insights into how these skills are applied in a modern economy. The pillars of the second year should be a study of the Four and the sectors they operate in (search, social, brand, and retail). To better understand these firms, the instincts they tap into, and their intersection between technology and stakeholder value is to gain insight into modern-day business, our world, and ourselves.

At the beginning and end of every course at NYU Stern, I tell my students the goal of the course is to provide them with an edge so they too can build economic security for themselves and their families. I wrote this book for the same reason. I hope the reader gains insight and a competitive edge in an economy where it''s never been easier to be a billionaire, but it''s never been harder to be a millionaire.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
1,883 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Bill Gallagher
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Strengths and Weaknesses of The Four--An Unbiased Review of a Slightly Curious Book
Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2017
Let me start with the strengths of The Four. Scott Galloway clearly has a sharp business mind; he is street smart, likeable, down-to-earth, and often funny; he can hold an audience’s interest and knows the online landscape very well. He also presents business concepts in a... See more
Let me start with the strengths of The Four. Scott Galloway clearly has a sharp business mind; he is street smart, likeable, down-to-earth, and often funny; he can hold an audience’s interest and knows the online landscape very well. He also presents business concepts in a clear and well synthesized way, and doesn’t seem to be trying to sell us his own products or services (well, okay, he’s definitely selling his opinions hard—more on that below, but he’s subtle about promoting his company, which I appreciate).

Why not a five star rating then? Well, while the book has some big thesis insights into the internet corporate behemoths and online commerce, it generally stays with the big part. This is valuable, and I’m guessing most readers will walk away with some fresh insights. However, once a big idea is noted, he tends to not delve deeper (particularly notable when the subtitle promises "the Hidden DNA." There were even a few times when The Four feels like a blog rant, giving him an opportunity to vent at one of the big companies (most notably that Apple wouldn’t help the FBI crack the code of an iPhone to help them gather evidence on a San Bernardino shooter/terrorist). He also spends a bit of time telling us some obvious things, though in fairness to Galloway, it is tricky to know what to leave out as common knowledge when you are writing for a general audience. As someone who knows a fair bit about ecommerce, I may be showing my bias here, but confirming my sense of some obviousness is the notably lower rating (at this writing at least) that Amazon readers of business books give the book compared to general readers.

I also wish Galloway would have delved deeper into the cultural and political implications for society when a handful of companies dominate the digital economy and have outsized influence in nearly every sphere. He touches upon this, but just touches. Perhaps that is too much to ask of a business book, but even the bigger picture business implications don’t get considered in a sustained way. Originally I wanted to say Galloway could be superficial, but that isn’t quite right--especially since he can definitely be trenchant and often has a wicked sharp wit. What I finally realized is that the shortfall comes from his impatience. He says as much as he describes himself and his impatience comes across in some of the stories he tells about himself (most notably in his handling of his efforts to bludgeon the New York Times to change). Ultimately this impatience leads to the book''s greatest weakness.

Another example of The Four''s superficiality/impatience: he casually refers to evolutionary “explanations” for business phenomenon. I am very much inclined toward evolutionary explanations for human behavior as well, but they come off as tossed out there instead of carefully thought through. Galloway’s breezy style also doesn’t help here. That is, Galloway enjoys being flip and cussing a fair bit. I’m not prudish in the slightest and think that he can often be quite amusing, but there is something about using LOTS of f-bombs and s-bombs (<not spelled out only because I assume Amazon would delete curse words) that take away their power when they are used too often. And ultimately they diminish some of the very weighty issues. Even that suggests a kind of impatience. That is, a tossed out flip dismissal is often used as a substitute for well crafted writing.

In short, The Four has value, but it had potential be lots more. So I definitely wouldn’t turn other readers away, but don’t get your hopes up for a masterpiece.
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Sean Harding
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Entertaining as an opinion piece, but factual errors and tone undermine it as a serious business book
Reviewed in the United States on March 5, 2018
This book is entertainingly written, but it comes off much more as a rant about how bad these companies are than a straightforward look at how they operate. If it were a newspaper article, this would go in the opinion section, not the business section. That''s not... See more
This book is entertainingly written, but it comes off much more as a rant about how bad these companies are than a straightforward look at how they operate. If it were a newspaper article, this would go in the opinion section, not the business section. That''s not necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn''t what I was looking for or expecting.

Additionally, I came across numerous glaring factual errors (many of which would be easily verifiable with public information) in this book. While they generally weren''t material to the argument he was making, it does undermine the credibility of the book. If so many things that I personally know about are incorrect, which other things are incorrect and I didn''t know?
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Gary Moreau, Author
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A colorful and personal take on the digital revolution that will make you smile, wince, and take notice
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2017
This is one of a number of recent books from authors who had a front row seat at the birth of the digital economy. In this case the journey unfolds through the proxy of Four—Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. The prose is quick and witty. Some of the witty is... See more
This is one of a number of recent books from authors who had a front row seat at the birth of the digital economy. In this case the journey unfolds through the proxy of Four—Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

The prose is quick and witty. Some of the witty is admittedly built on more than a whiff of cynicism: “At its core, Apple fills two instinctual needs: to feel closer to God and be more attractive to the opposite sex.” And,“Facebook is a platform for strutting and preening…Few people post pictures of their divorce papers or how tired they look on Thursday.” You will, nonetheless, smile.

And the book is chock full of interesting trivia: “The cocktail of low-cost product and premium prices has landed Apple with a cash pile greater than the GDP of Denmark, the Russian stock market, and the market cap of Boeing, Airbus, and Nike combined.”

In the end, while the book admires what each of the Four has accomplished, it begs the question being increasingly asked: What is our digital future and are we better off for it?

It is a legitimate question. Google has more power than Standard Oil or AT&T ever dreamed of and yet the government and its regulators seem not to care. The government, in fact, cheers on the consolidation, despite the degree to which the Four contribute in a very real way to the country’s debilitating political and social polarization. “So, Facebook, and the rest of the algorithm-driven media, barely bothers with moderates.” And “This is how these algorithms reinforce polarization in our society.”

Fake news and Russian influence are the news stories of the day, but, as Galloway points out, this is the tip of the iceberg. Google, in the end, is a public utility managed as if it weren’t and Facebook is no less a media company than the New York Times or CNN. To dismiss Facebook’s power on the notion that it is a mere platform for personal expression defies common sense. “Don’t kid yourself: Facebook’s sole mission is to make money. Once the company’s success is measured in clicks and dollars, why favor true stories over false ones?”

Each of the four, moreover, yields monopoly-enabled financial power in the market, allowing them to make huge bets in things like artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles; bets that the likes of General Motors and IBM and their employees could not begin to finance out of their comparatively pedestrian and competitively constrained returns.

While Galloway clearly has a love/hate relationship with each of the Four and attempts to provide a balanced assessment, the prose devoted to the negative is definitely more acerbic in tone and more than a tad personal. I admit particular discomfort in his portrayal of Steve Jobs, suggesting that fans like myself “conveniently ignored the fact that Steve Jobs gave nothing to charity, almost exclusively hired middle-aged white guys, and was an awful person.”

Without disputing Jobs’ humanity tit for tat, as I didn''t know him, he was a person with passion and authenticity; two qualities sorely lacking in many C-suites toady. There is a fine line between not suffering fools (a good thing) and bullying (a bad thing), but I still choose to believe Jobs was on the right side of that line.

Style and discrete substance aside, I do think Galloway’s main theme is accurate. “A devouring beast, Facebook will continue with more of the same. With its global reach, its near-limitless capital, and its ever-smarter data-crunching AI machine, Facebook, in combination with Google, will lay waste to much of the analog and digital media worlds.” And the Four “pursue a Darwinian, rapacious path to profits and ignore the job destruction taking place at your hands every day.” Whatever the intentions and good will of their leaders, we are allowing a consolidation of corporate power never before seen in history. Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan were mere street corner tough guys in comparison.

I further agree with Galloway that the notion that we are promoting a culture that believes that individuals, entrepreneurial or not, should be rewarded with billion dollar paydays is both dangerous and indefensible. Ultimately, no person, no business, and no idea exists in isolation. Rugged individualism is a romantic myth. Every one of us benefits from our membership in a society that protects us, educates us, and gives us roads to drive on. Every company, the Four included, enjoys both these advantages and the benefits of sound and accessible credit markets, the protection of intellectual property, and a body of publicly funded research that they can lease for pennies on the dollar.

The philosophical school of skepticism, most often associated with Pyrrho of Elis, who lived in the fourth century BCE and traveled to India with the armies of Alexander the Great, put it best. Skepticism is the suspension of judgment, called epoché, that flows from the paradox that what we know and how we know it cannot be known independently, thus precluding a definitive answer to either question. However exciting it may be, the entrepreneurial culture that empowers the digital world is built on a well-defined dogma, and is thus worthy of our legitimate skepticism.

Galloway ultimately notes that every dog has its day. All of the Four face great risk going forward; risk that has clearly not been baked into their market valuations. Google is likely to be seen for the public utility it is. Facebook will likely be stymied in its effort to facilitate meaningful communities by the inevitable erosion in public trust that is structurally inherent in its algorithmic model. Amazon, Galloway notes, will face potential backlash over the impact of its digital efficiency on retail and last mile employment. And Apple, like all companies, faces the risk of management missteps and changing tastes, although neither has threatened it to date.

I don’t share Galloway’s pessimism regarding the future of brands, but I do agree that, “No technology firm has solved the problem of aging—losing relevance.” It reflects, in part, the sine wave of development that seems inherent to the universe itself. Only Apple, Galloway notes, has yet survived beyond the cult of its original founder(s).

In the last two sections of the book Galloway tackles what it will take to be the fifth of Five, or a replacement for one of the Four, (What he calls the T Algorithm) and offers advice to young people just starting their career. The ideas are okay but a bit superficial. Everyone should be likeable, for example. If your parents didn’t teach you that you’re admittedly starting in a hole. It’s a quality you should expect of your pets, much less yourself.

The latter part of the book does lose some intensity, as a result. Some of the material, such as the need for curiosity, emotional intelligence, and a college degree are a bit redundant. And he makes a lot of generalizations, such as his observed tendency of young men to preen in meetings and what he considers the limited bandwidth of the average CEO. He readily admits his own excesses, which are, at times, a bit off-putting although the authenticity, I think, ultimately wins out.

The book, in the end, is a worthy read on an important topic. The author is sometimes a victim of excess, but aren’t we all. Gallagher has both an experience worthy of being heard and the chops to make us listen anyway.
39 people found this helpful
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Zander
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Three books for the price of one!
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2018
The book is a long chat over cocktails, the f-bomb dropped left and right, a scattering of incomprehensible sentences here and there (where was that copy editor?), and drifts from (1) the big four to (2) who might be next in the big-boy category to (3) nice fatherly advice... See more
The book is a long chat over cocktails, the f-bomb dropped left and right, a scattering of incomprehensible sentences here and there (where was that copy editor?), and drifts from (1) the big four to (2) who might be next in the big-boy category to (3) nice fatherly advice to young ones concerning how to succeed in life and make a million (or maybe even a billion) dollars. Having read the Steve Jobs bio, and having worked in tech for 15 years, the interesting bits for me could have been whittled down to a couple of pages--a chapter at most. Your mileage may vary.
25 people found this helpful
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C. Davis
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Meh
Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2018
Narcissistic superficial condescending boring obvious . There is no big reveal, no hidden dna, just one person’s opinions about the currently en vogue companies Silly me for buying this
18 people found this helpful
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Lauren L
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliantly illuminating and wickedly funny
Reviewed in the United States on November 28, 2017
An outstanding work - entertaining and brilliantly illuminating in equal measure. You don''t have to subscribe to every aspect of Mr Galloway''s at times scathing analysis or his prescriptions to survive his four horsemen of the apocalypse to nonetheless gain an immense... See more
An outstanding work - entertaining and brilliantly illuminating in equal measure. You don''t have to subscribe to every aspect of Mr Galloway''s at times scathing analysis or his prescriptions to survive his four horsemen of the apocalypse to nonetheless gain an immense amount of insight from his prescient take. Galloway also has an extremely sharp wit - I actually can''t remember a book this (unexpectedly and literally) LOL - always an effective way to package evisceration! Highly, highly recommended!
16 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mostly personal opinions about "The Four"
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2018
The author is smart and well informed about "The Four". No doubt about that. However, the book is much more about his personal opinions about the companies than a fact-based analysis of them. To make justice, there are some numbers throughout the chapters. But they are more... See more
The author is smart and well informed about "The Four". No doubt about that. However, the book is much more about his personal opinions about the companies than a fact-based analysis of them. To make justice, there are some numbers throughout the chapters. But they are more to illustrate than to support the arguments. In addition, the author uses a very informal - and sometimes vulgar - language. That for sure is not what one expects for such a book. The value of the book is that it is a coesive analysis of the four biggest companies of our days. Maybe I''m wrong. But guess no other book does that.
4 people found this helpful
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R. J. Marsella
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You''ll Never Look At Your IPhone The Same Way After Reading This
Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2017
The first three quarters of this book will change the way you look at your IPhone forever. The author has a talent for succinctly driving home disturbing insights regarding the 4 companies and their business practices. He can be funny and entertaining while describing... See more
The first three quarters of this book will change the way you look at your IPhone forever. The author has a talent for succinctly driving home disturbing insights regarding the 4 companies and their business practices. He can be funny and entertaining while describing trends in the digital economy that left me stunned at the magnitude of the changes taking place under our collective noses that are not quite obvious.
In the later chapters he begins to almost grate with his carer advice and what earlier worked as humor and sarcasm starts to sound a tad mean spirited and in a few places just obnoxious.
Overall I''d recommend the book for it''s insightful dissection of FB, Amazon , Google and Apple even though I doubt I''d want to hang out for long with Scott Galloway who in the end comes across as more than a little snide.
6 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

E L R
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This isn''t the book your looking for
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2018
OK, so this is really a game of two halfs. Half 1: an interesting and insightful analysis of the big 4 tech companies and a brief look at some of their smaller competitors. Half 2: business advice from - according to his own account - someone that has been only modestly...See more
OK, so this is really a game of two halfs. Half 1: an interesting and insightful analysis of the big 4 tech companies and a brief look at some of their smaller competitors. Half 2: business advice from - according to his own account - someone that has been only modestly successful in business. I''m personally not even slightly interested in advice from the author and wouldn''t have bought the book for that. The first half is very good though, but too short and too shallow. This book could have been very good and very useful, but I''m affraid the author really failed to concentrate his energy on the topic at hand - ie. the title of the book - and settled a score or two and gave an unwanted fire side chat. Also, the author turned the air blue. I know that some academics like to swear to impress their students, but come on. It''s a childish and unhelpful distraction. Grow up Mister!
19 people found this helpful
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Deep Knowledge
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Hail scott, this greatest book - akin to Zero to one or perhaps better
Reviewed in India on November 15, 2017
This one book worth more than 2 years of MBA. A great book, this will take you into the Disney world of the businesses of future. Once you have read this you won''t be able to see yourself as same man in the mirror. sir Scott has not only succeeded but also failed in so many...See more
This one book worth more than 2 years of MBA. A great book, this will take you into the Disney world of the businesses of future. Once you have read this you won''t be able to see yourself as same man in the mirror. sir Scott has not only succeeded but also failed in so many ventures, this is what makes this book as important as Zero to one or Antifragile if not more, not a single word will fail to amuse you. I am trully honoured to read this book.
61 people found this helpful
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Stiven Skyrah
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Enlightening and terrifying!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 6, 2019
This is terrifying and hilarious and necessary. Everyone should be reading this—especially policy makers and young people. The horsemen of the apocalypse will not be faceless nameless terrifying beasts. They’ll be the friendly trustworthy platforms we all use. What do we...See more
This is terrifying and hilarious and necessary. Everyone should be reading this—especially policy makers and young people. The horsemen of the apocalypse will not be faceless nameless terrifying beasts. They’ll be the friendly trustworthy platforms we all use. What do we even do as consumers? That’s the most depressing part. We need the ease and speed of amazon because we’re too overworked to sown our days at Target. As for apple, he’s got my number. Why have I been holding on to the fancy boxes my iPhones come in? They know our primal instincts and are cleverly exploiting them. As for Google as God, that was spot on.
4 people found this helpful
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Fonaweb
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Genuinely scary but....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 2, 2020
Unputdownable and brilliant analysis of why the four digital giants are successful and all the underhanded ways they get you to do things and buy stuff. But like "Dow 36,000", books about Japan in the early 1990s, books about real estate in 2005, books about China now and...See more
Unputdownable and brilliant analysis of why the four digital giants are successful and all the underhanded ways they get you to do things and buy stuff. But like "Dow 36,000", books about Japan in the early 1990s, books about real estate in 2005, books about China now and all the other books that put forward the inevitable dominance of the current most fashionable capitalist concept (big data and its uses), the seeds of downfall and destruction are already sown. It''s like when you read about a company on the front page, it''s the beginning of the end - in these cases, a collective decision to switch off and get out more, plus "peak stuff". So scary - but not that scary.
3 people found this helpful
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a Punter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The ''Big Four and the case for antitrust measures
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2018
A fundamental for anyone who''s interested/involved in the "digital world". Actually scratch that, this is a must read for all of us. Galloway pulls off a coup in leading us, at pace, through the genesis, evolution and make-up the big Four. A fascinating and somewhat...See more
A fundamental for anyone who''s interested/involved in the "digital world". Actually scratch that, this is a must read for all of us. Galloway pulls off a coup in leading us, at pace, through the genesis, evolution and make-up the big Four. A fascinating and somewhat sobering read. A shortish, readable book that clearly explains where we are, where we''re (probably) going and the case for anti-trust measures for the Four. His style won''t be to everyone''s taste but Scott Galloway rips through the subject with energy, passion and a bit of "adult" language. Feels as timely and relevant to us now in 2018 as previous digital commentaries such as "The Long Tail" and "The Search" were in the mid-noughties.
4 people found this helpful
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