Book Notes: The Four

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book looks at the bussiness model for:

  • Amazon where it is all about investing in removing barriers so that you can get products quicker triggering gratification,
    • Story telling -> Cheap Capital -> 100x risks (loop infinitely…)
    • Amazon is destroying the significance of brands
  • Apple which is all about people wanting to make themselves feel good
    • Wealthy people are surprisingly homogenous in their buying habits
    • Apple are premium products and price with mass production costs
    • Selling the products as an experience in their stores not just a product
  • Facebook having such a large network of people thus being so valuable as a result
    • An average of an hour a day is spent on Facebook’s digital “properties”
    • Data on billions of identities allows micro targeting
    • Polarised opinions are better views and click bait
    • It claims to be a platform, not media, abdicating responsibility for content
  • Google which is a god in the sense that it gives bussiness and it takes it away
    • Huge amounts of trust by users
    • A change in their algorithm can spell the end for a company (e.g. about.com)
    • Search -> pages -> advertising revenue can be bed for publishers

T Algorithm

  • Product Differentiation
    • Great products break through the clutter
    • Don’t just think about adding, think about what you can remove/simplify
  • Visionary Capital
    • Storytelling is key
    • A bold vision gives you cheap capital
  • Global Reach
  • Likability
  • Vertical Integration
    • Own the whole experience
  • AI
  • Accelerant
    • Attracting talent is key to succeeding
  • Geography
    • You need to be based near the tallent, they won’t come to you

You

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

You have to be great, it’s now a global world and there are so many average people. Emotional maturity is key – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills are not optional but essential.

One thing which was quite interesting in this book was the suggestion to go to a university and transfer to the best university you can after the first year when people drop out meaning it is easier to get into than in the first year.

You can’t win without stepping on the field. Hire A people because they hire As, Bs hire Cs.

Go to a city, the network effect is key, remote working will not give the advantages co-location will. Get equity in the companies you work for a live within your means. Stay loyal to people, not organisations. Don’t follow your passion follow your talent. When you leave, leave graciously as you never know when you might meet these people again. We regress to the mean sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down – if you are up don’t expect to stay there if you are down look up. Ask for and Give Help.

The author presents a company like an alphabet, when it starts it is at A –

  • Entrepreneurs here you need people who have high tolerance for risk, can sell, and are too stupid to know they are going to fail.
  • Once the company is rolling and access to capital it is better served by a visionary individual who can scale the company.
  • Later in the alphabet there is the operator who keeps the company going with job security important and low risk.
  • After this there is the pragmatist has no romance for the glory days and helps the company through a managed decline cutting costs, selling bussiness off.

It is rare for a CEO to cover more than two stages.

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