The CEOs of four tech megacaps are set to testify before Congress Wednesday. Enter the bad boy of NYU’s marketing department…
From “Fire & Fawning” posted Friday on Galloway’s No Mercy/No Malice:
When the show starts, Zuck will be the target of the most ire, as he’s an oligarch minus the charm. Bezos, on the other hand, will receive the least ire, as his command of soft power is second only to China… Cook and Pichai will likely just try to stay out of the line of fire and fawning for Zuck and Bezos, respectively. Expect Zuck to use two words repeatedly in his defense (tik and tok) as he attempts to wrap himself in the flag and convince the committee that he’s our national champion, singularly able to repel the invading Chinese … coming for our children.
Q: Messrs. Bezos, Cook, Pichai, Zuckerberg, your firms have added greater market capitalization in the last five years than the largest retailers and CPG firms have in total. This is a large portion of the entire consumer economy. If you were public servants, would you be concerned that too many of the spoils are being registered by increasingly fewer firms and people?
Q: Your market capitalization per employee is thousands of times higher than that of other companies in your sectors. Do you think your companies contribute to income inequality?
Q: Mr. Cook, monopoly rent is when a monopoly producer lacks competition and thus can sell its goods and services at a price far above what the otherwise competitive market price would be, at the expense of consumers. Our information age is often called “the app economy,” denoting how important apps have become to commerce and consumption. Your firm and Google dominate the app ecosystem, with 62% and 38% shares, respectively. This chart shows the rents you are able to extract from every streaming video app. Every media company that wants to reach a consumer online must pay you a toll or rent. Do you think any of these firms believe that paying you this rent is a choice?Q: Spotify is consistently rated as a superior music service to your Apple Music, yet Apple Music is growing faster than Spotify in the US. Isn’t this a function of you owning the rails, and being able to levy a 30% tax on a competitor while illegally reducing their discoverability in the app store?
My take: Galloway is always provocative and, as he himself admits, often wrong. I’ve asked the professor what NPS means in the context of the chart above and if he had any data more recent than Q4 2017.
Respect for the fabric softener in Galloway’s opener:
Big tech has won before the hearing starts. Agreeing to let all four testify concurrently inhibits the committee’s ability to go deep on any one issue, and will leave the American public with a sentiment instead of a viewpoint on big tech, much less any conclusions (such as, that the Obama DOJ was asleep at the switch, and Instagram and Whatsapp should be divested). The Covid-inspired remote format dramatically lessens the likelihood of an unscripted moment that reveals something the American public didn’t previously know. Fabric softener for tough questioning is the deep pockets that keep members in power.