No Mercy No Malice

24 hours after a failed coup, the lead story on Twitter is Elon Musk becoming the wealthiest man in the world

An illustration of one of the violent rioters sitting in the Senate chamber well chair from Jan. 6’s attempted coup.
An illustration of one of the violent rioters sitting in the Senate chamber well chair from Jan. 6’s attempted coup.
Illustrations: Scott Galloway

On my podcast last week, public health expert Dr. Abdul El-Sayed highlighted that while viruses are naturally occurring, epidemics are a function of human action or inaction. This week, as a mob overran the U.S. Capitol, his observation registered increased purchase.

Extremism, misinformation, sociopaths stewarding profit-incentivized algorithms: All viruses. What we witnessed Wednesday afternoon — and have seen at least since November 4th — is an epidemic. Record deaths from Covid-19 and the U.S. Capitol overrun by a mob on the same day. How did this happen?

The virus has broken containment, preying on our comorbidities.

The ascendant comorbidity is the steady denigration of our public institutions, particularly government and its agencies, over the last four decades. Since the Reagan Revolution in 1980, a conservative philosophy of limited government has morphed to an anti-government creed. President Trump is the manifestation of that narrative. The president blames the “deep state” for every setback and has stocked his cabinet with appointees opposed to the departments they lead, from a Secretary of Education who doesn’t appear to believe in public education to a Secretary of Energy who once proposed eliminating the Department of Energy. …


No Mercy No Malice

Why Airbnb, Robinhood, and Walmart will be the most important companies to watch this year

An illustration of a crystal ball with thick framed glasses over it.
An illustration of a crystal ball with thick framed glasses over it.
Images courtesy of the author

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower tweeted that in 1957 (it was a speech, Ed). The value of a prediction is not accuracy (though it is better to be right than wrong), but the reasoning and conversation that the prediction catalyzes. Predictions can also be self-fulfilling prophecies, as the best way to predict the future is to make it… and predictions can make it (the future). After last year’s predictions, seven Fortune 100 CEOs came to me for advice. …


No Mercy No Malice

America’s kids are tuning into the gaming platform over 2.5 hours per day

David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, presents at the Roblox Developer Conference on August 10, 2019 in Burlingame, CA.
David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, presents at the Roblox Developer Conference on August 10, 2019 in Burlingame, CA.
Photo: Ian Tuttle/Stringer/Getty Images

This is the second in a series of posts about one of the most accretive paradigm shifts in our economy since globalization and digitization: dispersion.

The market added half a trillion in value in the past two weeks: AT&T busted a baller move to a rundle, the FTC filed suit against Facebook, and an overhyped DoorDash and underhyped Airbnb went public.

AT&T’s announcement that it will release movies simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters predictably pissed off Hollywood players, who make millions from the current system. But Christopher Nolan calling HBO Max “the worst streaming service” is similar to JCPenney calling Amazon circa 1999 a terrible experience. Doctors, talent agents, and film directors should host a pity party at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s crib, catered by Planet Hollywood and with performances from Robin Thicke and Billy Squier. (Note: You know the moment when the edible kicks in? …


No Mercy No Malice

Why we’ll never go back to life before Covid

Line goes into a pyramid & splits into multiple lines pointing at logos like Amazon, Netflix, TikTok, Fox News, Facebook, NYT
Line goes into a pyramid & splits into multiple lines pointing at logos like Amazon, Netflix, TikTok, Fox News, Facebook, NYT

The pandemic’s most enduring feature will be as an accelerant of existing trends. The trend that encapsulates the greatest reshuffling of stakeholder value in recent history is… the Great Dispersion. Similar to prior macro trends like globalization and digitization, it offers enormous opportunity, but also real threats.

In 1997, I was asked to address the board of Levi Strauss on the future of brands and retail. The title of my presentation was “The Death of Distance.” My basic rap was that all brands needed to establish a direct relationship with the consumer (e-commerce). …


An exclusive excerpt from Scott Galloway’s new book, ‘Post Corona’

Newspaper headline “Bailout Plan” stacked on top of a $100 US bill.
Newspaper headline “Bailout Plan” stacked on top of a $100 US bill.
Photo: LilliDay/E+/Getty Images

The logical alternative to capitalism is socialism, and on its face, there is a lot to like. Socialism is rooted in altruism and humanism; it seeks to build up community rather than the atomized individual. These are noble goals. But the sacrifice in productivity is immense, especially with the compounding effects of time. Capitalism creates dramatically many more spoils, so any of those noble goals have more to work with.

The toxic cocktail, however, is to combine the worst of both systems. For the last 40 years, we’ve been doing this in the United States. We have capitalism on the way up. If you can create value in this country, you can be rewarded with spoils vastly beyond anything comparable in history. If you can’t create value — if you’re born into the wrong family or you catch a bad break — you’ll likely live on the edge and pay dearly for your mistakes. …


No Mercy No Malice

What if the cable giant and Twitter joined forces to reinvent the future of news?

An illustration of the New York Times office building with a “For Sale” sign in front.
An illustration of the New York Times office building with a “For Sale” sign in front.

In March 2008, after raising $600 million, acquiring 18% of the outstanding stock, and threatening a proxy contest, I was elected to the board of the New York Times Company. The company was struggling to make the transition from print to digital. The stock was at $17 (down from $53 in 2002). Investors were fleeing the Gray Lady for hotter, younger online media properties.

The Times is likely the most important media firm of the last century. At one point I had dinner with Bill Keller, executive editor at the time, who had to excuse himself to help negotiate the release of a Times journalist taken hostage by the Taliban. Our best and brightest were doing hostage negotiations while Google’s best were busy programming ways to steal and monetize the content of the hostage. …


No Mercy No Malice

The social media giant is the only firm in its competitive set that grossly under-monetizes its users

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I’ve watched CNN for 38 of the last 48 hours. Some observations:

  • Quinnipiac, Marist, Pew, and FiveThirtyEight should take a poll and stick it up their a$$.
  • I hope someday someone will touch me the way John King fondles the Perceptive Pixel wall. Still time.
  • If AT&T stock falls below $20/share, I will raise $2–3 billion, acquire >100 million shares, and advocate for a divestiture of Time Warner assets. It’s time to acknowledge this is a failed acquisition and the telco is now paying a conglomerate tax where the disposition of media assets would be accretive. CNN needs to command the space it occupies and be put behind a paywall. …


No Mercy No Malice

‘This was an October surprise that didn’t even try to cover up how politically motivated the timing was and how flawed the mission.’

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I grew up in L.A., so I’ve been to Disneyland a lot. My first lessons in economics and marketing — scarcity, fiat currency, opportunity cost, sub-brands — were in Anaheim. Between 1959 and 1982, park visitors were asked to engage in game theory and segmentation exercises to get the most magic from their kingdom. Admission, when I started going, set you back $3.75. It’s now $154, an inflation-adjusted increase in excess of 300% (#worthit). Ticket books were extra and segmented A-E (worst to best rides). E tickets, needed for the best rides, were a luxury brand positioned between Van Cleef & Arpels and Aman Resorts in the mind of an eight-year-old. …


Where you die and who is around you at the end is a strong signal of your success or failure in life.

As we can’t look away from the Mayor of America’s one-man luge, and the head-on collision of multitasking and Zoom, we risk losing sight of the profound: Americans are dying from the novel coronavirus at a greater velocity than any crisis in our nation’s history.

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Childhood, education, failure, success, and relationships shape us. But I’d posit that what defines us is life and death — bringing a child into the world and losing someone you love. Not the moment of birth or death, but the proximate before and after. …


No Mercy No Malice

Some are predicting a $30 billion valuation. Here’s why it could actually be a lot higher.

Airbnb logo displayed on a phone screen with bills in the background
Airbnb logo displayed on a phone screen with bills in the background
Photo: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto/Getty Images

While the entire professional class, and every elected official, all claim to be optimists, I see the world through gray-colored glasses. Vaccine by fall, herd immunity, a robust recovery, markets will continue to surge, AI …

Yeah, right.

Pessimists are underappreciated, as while optimists built the first plane, pessimists suggested seat belts. Both parties have a role. Neville Chamberlain, Charles Keating, and Bobbi Brown were all likely optimists. But I digress.

So, being angry and depressed doesn’t mean I’m wrong. There are good companies that are overvalued (Tesla, Snowflake), good businesses whose emissions are bad for society (Facebook, Twitter), and firms that are just a menace (Uber). There are also firms that are all three (Palantir). However, occasionally there is a firm that is so gangster even I can’t help but see the glass as half empty, vs. empty. …

About

Scott Galloway

Prof Marketing @NYUStern · Founder @L2_digital @redenvelope @prophetBrand · Contributor @bloombergtv · Cohost Pivot podcast · Weekly musings profgalloway.com

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