Interviews Technology

Tech’s Big Four Are Ruining Capitalism

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Written by James Piltch

Scott Galloway, a Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern and successful tech entrepreneur, recently wrote an article in Esquire in which he said it’s time to trust-bust and break up tech’s big four: Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. His rationale? They’re ruining capitalism. We had a chance to ask him some follow up questions about his thinking on the subject.

Your Esquire essay on breaking up tech’s Big Four was fact based and well-reasoned. So why is no one in Washington currently leading this charge?

These companies and CEOs wrap themselves in a neon-blue pink rainbow and blue blanket to create an illusionist trick from their behavior each day, which is more indicative of the spawn of Darth Vader than Ayn Rand. If Sheryl Sandberg had written a book on gun rights or on the pro-life movement, would they be flying Sheryl to Cannes? No. And I’m not doubting their progressive values, but it foots to shareholder value, because we as progressives are seen as weak. They’re so nice — remember Microsoft? They didn’t seem as nice, and regulators stepped in much earlier than the regulators now, who would never step in on those nice, nice people.

The fundamental question that we need to ask is whether or not what’s good for the consumer is good for society? Right now customers are happy, but at some point, Amazon is going to clear so much competition from the field that they are going to be able to extract monopoly rent, and Google/Facebook will continue to destroy jobs in media/digital marketing. These same consumers won’t be so happy when they receive their pink slips from work, their taxes increase, or the next time we get hacked.

If you had fifteen minutes in a room with a senator who was interested in this fight, what would your main talking points be?

It’s important to point out that breaking up the big tech isn’t meant to destroy them, but to repair the markets that are failing. A key component of the capitalist economic model is that when markets fail, and they do, we have referees on the field to throw a yellow flag and restore order. The Four are dominating the press and markets, creating a concentration of power that fosters premature death for big companies and infanticide for small firms.

This type of intervention is not an attack on capitalism, but full-throated capitalism. We should break them up because key to our capitalist way of life is to maintain competition as we did by breaking up the railroads and Ma Bell. Instead of four firms, there could be ten, and we would have an ecosystem to stimulate job growth and shareholder value, inspire more M&A, and investment, broaden the tax base, and lower rents via increased competition from firms. This is about strengthening and expanding, not constructing, the markets.

About the author

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James Piltch

James Piltch is the editor of Smerconish.com. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Forward, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.