The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, by Scott Galloway
This book is a fun romp. It was really the first cohesive format that really challenged me to think about the companies that so many friends and I have gone to work for, almost without thinking about it at all.
The only similar book critical of the tech industry that I’ve read, Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now just didn’t feel as well reasoned as this one.
I get the impression that Scott Galloway tries to give himself an easy argument for many of his points by appealing to the desire for wealth, things, and sex as universal human desires. For me, and a lot of my friends, these things just do not make much sense. We are all broke new college grads still living like students, who chose to work these jobs because they pay well and they are famous.
I also found that focus on business-to-consumer companies to be rather bizarre. I wish the book were more balanced in this sense - maybe I should say more like a textbook. Claiming constantly that luxury brands have made their owners into billionaires does not feel like an argument that holds water to the question “Are B2B or B2C companies more profitable?”
The first four chapters on the companies were a mixed bag. The Amazon chapter was hilarious, the Apple chapter was so-so, the Facebook chapter seemed surprisingly short, and the Google chapter had a bizarre but comic interlude about the author’s attempt to be an activist investor in The New York Times.
Explanations about how companies like Facebook and Google get all of their advertising money are scant. Just some references to “AI” and “big data”. I’ve worked in the industry, so I have a good sense of it, but it is somewhat disappointing that the author viewed his book as a platform to persuade, rather than inform.
The final chapter on career advice was pretty endearing, though I do take it with a grain of salt.
You can read this book in a day. I would say it was a good read.