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No Mercy

HQ2 Much

Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on January 19, 2018

There are several reasons to call for the breakup of big tech:

— weaponization of the platforms by adversaries
— teen depression
— monopoly power
— restraint of competition
— recognition the true consumers are firms (e.g., advertisers) who incur harm
— market failure

The most recent neon red flag of market failure is the beauty contest / shitshow that is Amazon HQ2. A middle class desperate for oxygenation, an election cycle that favors short‑term thinking, and Amazon worship by consumers and investors have resulted in a frenzy pitch among municipalities that highlights the perversion of our nation at the hands of big tech.

So, Amazon announced the finalists. But not really. Toronto, you have no chance. Every ounce of energy you waste on this bid is abuse by the Seattle firm, hoping you’ll produce an irrational term sheet the city Amazon has already selected will be asked to match. Bezos is smarter than the rest of us and smells a multiple on EBITDA contraction, via threat of regulation. He’d never spend this chit on a city with no representatives in Congress.

Dallas, Denver, Montgomery County, Indianapolis, Miami … you’re done. You have good universities, but not enough of them, and Amazon needs an Amazonian pipeline of the best and brightest to support its growth.

The X factor here is where Jeff wants to spend more time. I’ve sat in several board meetings where the CEO cloaks their desire to spend more time in another city in a rational‑sounding strategy to move the firm’s HQ. The new HQ will be where Jeff wants to spend more time. My bet is the NYC metro area, but I’m projecting my own preferences on Mr. and Ms. Bezos — don’t know them or where they want to roll.

The real downer is the hunger games beauty contest will result in a soaking of taxpayers. Chicago has offered to let Amazon keep payroll taxes, saying, in effect: We give up, you are now the government. Amazon already knows where they want to be. Instead of reaching out to that municipality and getting a great deal, they want a stupid (for taxpayers) deal and are fostering a reality‑TV‑meets‑government circus.

The lack of concern for our commonwealth is disappointing. Really disappointing.

So, as I want to learn from the best-performing entity in the world … I’m announcing a contest to decide which big tech firm should be broken up first. The finalists are Facebook and Amazon, who both prioritize shareholders over the condition of our souls, or the country’s prosperity. I know who the winner is, but will foment a false contest that dominates the media, crowding out stories on other firms, and will ask each firm to waste time and resources, so I can transfer value from taxpayers to my pocket. Let the games begin…

Life is so rich,



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