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


Was so excited to read on when I could feel the emotional irony in the ending of the first chapter where Galloway mentions that the results of googling his name appears after some professional athete:"those bastards" . I googled this, however, and is no longer true. Maybe because the release of this book helped his SEO? Although I did appreciate the personality and candidness of Galloway's rants, I did find he dedicated a little too much time to his experience and relationships in the newspaper business.

What I found most compelling about this read was breaking into the education market and the middle class' existence in the digital age.

Disappearing Middle Class

Galloway introduces, in quite a scary realization, that if the economy keeps trending as is than a very small group of exception people will control a mass percent of the world's wealth.

It's never been easier to be a billionaire and harder to be a millionaire

Not saying a millionaire is by any means "middle class" but it is the upper middle class. I found this quote so intriguing because we all want to be billionaires, but more realistically we could actually strive for millionaires. It seems like that attainable goal is only getting less realistic. There may be more lottery winners, but statistically your are still wasting your dollar by buying a ticket.

A lot of the book I found cynical. An optimistic approach to the digital age is the disappearance of the factory worker. Machines do factory work now. We are useful when we are not acting as machines but as creative, intelligent and emotional human beings. Making it in the digital age will mean putting your humanity into your work. Sure there my be less jobs, which don't get me wrong is scary, but there will be more human jobs. Who wants to act as machines anyways? The world's fascination and the success of the show "Shark Tank" displays how consumers love small businesses. With the availability of information from Google, of marketplace from Amazon and of communication from Facebook there are huge opportunities for not just the rich, but for everyone for free. Yes, I left out Apple there because I personally don't think Apple gives much more than the image dysmorphia of being sexy.

Market for Higher Education

I will expand on the only way I see Apple truely impacting the world post-Jobs. The most eye opening ideas from the book was the idea of the next disrupted market being education. I admire the brilliance and forthcoming idea of Apple investing in a presidios university.

My favorite part of the digital age is the power of the people over "evil" markets. Uber taking over taxi industry, Amazon taking over highly inflated market of shipping (even though as Galloway pointed out much throughout the book Amazon isn't exactly doing this fairly). To have education be the next disrupted market would be huge. The stats on increasing tuition costs and competition for admission these days is ridiculous and institutes are only getting increasingly worst year over year.

From the graph above we can see how consumer price index increases much more rapidly for college students above other sectors of education. Companies like Chegg have grown hugely successful by jumping on this increase. Chegg began as a college textbook rental company for students. College textbooks are still the largest increasing sector in education costs but Chegg is putting a dent in what students are actually spending. The amount students are actually spending on textbooks - despite the insane rising cost of a new textbook - has stayed relatively flat at about $600/year due to companies like Chegg that are allowing students the options of buying used, renting or saleing books to one another [According to Student Monitor and Quoctrung Bui/NPR] Now, lets image Apple - one of the most massive and powerful organizations of human talent - taking this same approach to college instruction and tuition.

Why would Apple do this? While clearly starting a college does deviate from the business model of a typical hardware company, Apple is not typical. The acquisition of hot talent is what makes companies successfully in the digital age. Having first dibs on that hot talent is a big advantage. Also, there is a lot of money in education. Parents would be racing to fork up money to get their kids in at what would likely lead to a direct job at Apple. Kids would be racing to get admission to this cool new school - well at least the smart kids.

Overall I think Scott Galloway's combination of research, data, sense and business knownledge analyzes the four "horseman" on point with reality. Yes, I may be a little biased as I can align with the honest, cut to the chase personality of Galloway not to mention he was a follow Bruin. But, bias aside if you haven't read "the four" already it's worth a read or a listen like I did on Audible.