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. …


No Mercy No Malice

Elon Musk, Robinhood, and SPACs all seem to be inflating the next big bubble

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Every decade, there’s at least one financial crisis somewhere in the world. When asked what a recession was, Jamie Dimon responded, “Something that happens every five to seven years.” It’s been 11. One of the many strange things about a crisis is that the country of origin (this time, China) is usually not the one that gets hit the hardest. Similar to when your kid gets his first C. Yeah, it’s rough on him, but the household devolves into arguments around parenting, with an older brother who must endure new rules implemented as a function of his delinquent sibling. …


NO MERCY NO MALICE

Who is better at capturing and sustaining a child’s attention than Disney?

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The biggest unlock of shareholder value from 2005 to 2015 was digital technologies that increased choice — the iPhone bringing the world to your pocket and Amazon’s endless aisle. The greatest accretion of shareholder value from 2015 to 2025 has been / will be recurring revenue bundles that decrease choice — Apple One and Amazon Prime. The biggest mistake marketers make is believing choice is a good thing. It isn’t. Consumers don’t want more choice, but to be more confident in the choices presented.

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It took Apple 42 years to get to $1 trillion in value, and then five months to get to $2 trillion despite no increase in earnings and anemic growth. It now trades at 35x earnings vs. an average of 16x over the last 10 years. Much of the recasting of Apple is due to a move to recurring revenue, which now accounts for 22% of top-line. Since launching Amazon Prime, and establishing a monogamous relationship with 82% of US households, Amazon has likely added the value of all other retail in the U.S. and Europe ($1.5 …


No Mercy No Malice

The secretive data firm is the black sheep of the tech community, and it wants to keep it that way

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Variation is an aspect of natural selection that helps a population’s gene pool to develop new traits. Those traits allow the next generation to adapt to changing environments. Symmetry of facial features is attractive, as it indicates an absence of maladies. We’re also drawn to people from different places, as it’s less likely we’ll cross the same two defective genes, like Tay-Sachs or hemophilia.

The subtle instincts of natural selection play out in our consumer choices, such as choosing branded denim or which artificially colored carbonated water, mixed with phosphoric acid, to stock in the fridge. …


No Mercy No Malice

Any great brand strategy clears these three hurdles: differentiation, relevance, and sustainability

An illustration of a packet of Splenda being poured into a mug with an image of the Democratic donkey.
An illustration of a packet of Splenda being poured into a mug with an image of the Democratic donkey.

“Fear is the lengthened shadow of ignorance.”
— Arnold Glasow

The DNC and RNC Zoom calls, posing as conventions, were all about shadows — not the parties or platforms themselves but perceptions of threats. The Republican Party decided, in another first, not to update its 2016 platform because, you know, not much has happened since Finding Dory and Lemonade dominated the box office and music charts and the Zika virus caused 5,230 symptomatic cases in the U.S., and one confirmed death.

“Make America great again, again” is the slogan, but the message is “I alone can fix these problems, even if they’re of my own making.” It’s more effective than it sounds. …

About

Scott Galloway

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

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