Couldn’t decide on any one, super-cool thing that’s crazy insightful or makes me cry while writing it, so … some thoughts on this week.
At my first firm, Prophet, we roamed the world preaching, to Global 500 firms, that the only sustainable advantage was the intangible associations surrounding physical products that had hit a ceiling on quality, and could only differentiate on emotion. The manufacturing era was on a ventilator. A firm’s ability to provide above-market returns depended on their ability to develop a compelling brand identity, and then treat this ID as a religion, nodding to the identity with every action/investment. I made a nice living preaching this. And then … the internet.
I sold my stake in Prophet in 2002. I had started hating the services industry. Success in the services industry is a function of your ability to communicate ideas and develop relationships. I loved the former and despised the latter — managing colleagues and being friends with people for money. The services industry is prostitution, minus the dignity. If you spend a lot of time at dinners with people who aren’t your family, it means you’re selling something that is mediocre.
I got lucky and got out. The brand era was drawing to a close. There’s no one moment, but a series of opportunistic infections: Google, Facebook, and technology that liberated the affluent from ads. Oh yeah, and products that were so ridiculously better than what we used before (Google vs. classified ads, Kayak vs. travel agents, Spotify vs. CDs). They don’t need to interrupt Modern Family for 30 seconds. This week, the agency serving the strongest brand in the world, Apple, laid off 50 people. Another nail.
On January 20, 2021 Michael Bloomberg will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg leaked to the press that he’s preparing to enter the race for president. My Pivot co-host, Kara Swisher, predicted this (she’s going to be f*cking unbearable with this win).
Up until yesterday, it was looking as if 46 would be 45, Trump. The soft fascism of Trump, wrapped in a good economy, would decimate the soft socialism of Elizabeth Warren. We Democrats are too polite to acknowledge the truth, as it’s politically incorrect: In 2020 America, a 78-year-old man who just had a heart attack will not be president, and, worse, neither will a woman.
Elizabeth Warren has put on a master class on how to run a campaign. In September I hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Michael Bennet. Fifty successful civic-minded people showed up to support a candidate who demonstrates the character, empathy, and brains that have been absent from Pennsylvania Avenue since January 20, 2017. That same night, 2,200 meters northwest of my apartment, 20,000 people showed up for an event hosted by Senator Warren. Senator Warren is impressive, substantive, and would lose 38-45 states in a match-up against Trump. A 69-year-old, impressive woman was a disaster in 2016, and (as is the definition of insanity) we should not expect a different outcome in 2020.
Self-appointed spokespeople for the economy have been fearmongering about the markets being cut in half if Warren is elected, which is ridiculous. Data shows that Democratic administrations register greater gains in the markets than Republicans. Artificially suppressed interest rates, irresponsible levels of debt, and a foreign policy that is a cocktail of incompetence and embarrassment is not a long-term winner for the markets.
In addition, we’re studying for the wrong test. The Dow is one of the least important metrics in our society, indicating the health of the wealthiest — 80% of stocks are owned by the top 10% income-earning households. A better question: Which candidate could reverse a 3-year decline in life expectancy? Facebook, Russia, Chipotle, unemployment … what do any of these things matter if we’re dying sooner?
The lesson of 2016 wasn’t the overlooked minority of angry white dudes, but that the US, while making big strides against racism and homophobia, is still wildly sexist. Elizabeth Warren enters the race 4 points behind because she has ovaries. NYT polling research confirms that many of Senator Warren’s attributes are viewed as negative simply because she is a she. Btw, the woman who stands the best shot of being president is Nikki Haley. No, not Ivanka. Ivanka stands the best shot of being a discount shoe designer and a pariah.
Bloomberg is all the great taste of Trump (a billionaire who offends snowflakes) with none of the calories (smart, competent, not a bigot). A VP pick of Buttigieg would seal the deal. Billionaire and no bone spurs — B2 … for the win.
Mayor Bloomberg wants to be president but doesn’t want to run (risk losing), and keeps asking the nation to anoint him commander in chief with leaks and polls. Dude, there’s a lot of things we all want. Nobody gets to be president without walking on coals.
We are here for so little time.
Mayor Bloomberg, you are old and will be here for less. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the last years of your life making your home (earth) a better place for the people you love, and the rest of us?
Stop polling, stop leaking. Run.
Life is so rich,