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The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

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Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are the four most influential companies on the planet. Just about everyone thinks they know how they got there. Just about everyone is wrong.

For all that's been written about the Four over the last two decades, no one has captured their power and staggering success as insightfully as Scott Galloway.

Instead of buying the myths these compa-nies broadcast, Galloway asks fundamental questions. How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that they're almost impossible to avoid (or boycott)? Why does the stock market forgive them for sins that would destroy other firms? And as they race to become the world's first trillion-dollar company, can anyone chal-lenge them?

In the same irreverent style that has made him one of the world's most celebrated business professors, Galloway deconstructs the strategies of the Four that lurk beneath their shiny veneers. He shows how they manipulate the fundamental emotional needs that have driven us since our ancestors lived in caves, at a speed and scope others can't match. And he reveals how you can apply the lessons of their ascent to your own business or career.

Whether you want to compete with them, do business with them, or simply live in the world they dominate, you need to understand the Four.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2017

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About the author

Scott Galloway

13 books973 followers
Scott Galloway is a clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, and a public speaker, author, and entrepreneur. He was named one of the world's 50 best business school professors by Poets and Quants.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,469 reviews
Profile Image for Blake.
39 reviews14 followers
November 8, 2017
Glad this book was a very short read, since it’s not worth much of anyone’s time. I tend to not write my thoughts up on books I’ve read in a formalized fashion, but this one can’t slip by. 

Galloway’s writing style is insufferable, and right off the bat in the introduction demonstrates himself to be an egomaniac misogynist who has a chip on his shoulder for everything wrong that has happened to him over the course of his career. Yes, things happen to him that cause problems in his life (many businesses he’s been a part of have been crushed by the likes of Google and the others), not problems from how he acts in the face of the cards he’s dealt. To paraphrase: 
I can’t work in big companies — they don’t listen to my superior opinions so I had to become an entrepreneur.
🙄 🙄 🙄

He’s clearly done well for himself financially over the years and has a cushy job teaching at NYU that he seems to loathe, and he can’t escape the fact he was on the losing end of lots of tiny (irrelevant) skirmishes in the broader battlefield of the Big Four’s rise to power. 
Here is the premise of the book: these companies are always written about and studied, but Galloway is in his mind the first to think of them in a unique and new way. The groundbreaking take, paraphrased: 

Apple/Amazon/Facebook/Google accumulated capital and advantage and recognized what they had going for them and how to leverage it for money and power. 

Not only is he so “whip smart” in his own view, but his writing is a bizarre mix of facts melded with with opinion and ridiculous statements explicitly designed to provoke any reader capable of reason. One example:

“People are drawn to the brand of Apple in order to appeal to the opposite sex and to feel closer to god, or to become more godlike themselves”

There is simply so much salt in his writing, you’d expect him to be trying to preserve food before refrigerators came around. He’s clearly smart (not as smart as he thinks he is) and pithy, but wholly unlikable by any and all conceivable measures. 

When mentioning companies often build on ideas from other firms missing a key way of bringing something to the market (think of where Apple and Microsoft are compared to Xerox), he snidely adds that “inspiration from others” is “Latin for theft”. Red herrings abound in his writing, where there is clearly some backstory as to why he is upset about some facet of society, but is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. On the topic of Apple, he writes “the world needs more homes with engaged parents, not a better fucking phone”. Sure, and remind me where Apple comes in to the rescue for that problem? 

He’s also bitter that when he consulted the NYT on how to save their failing business that he couldn’t convince the powers that be to have Google acquire them. He makes sure you don’t forget that this would have been brilliant, and it was his idea, and everyone else was too stupid to realize it. Finally, he makes a Bruce Jenner trans joke while talking about LinkedIn in the context of its acquisition by Microsoft. What? 

I’ll let this verbatim excerpt speak for itself, since it is emblematic of how the entire book reads: 
“Drive a Porsche, even at fifty-five miles an hour, and you feel more attractive — and more likely to have a random sexual experience. Since men are wired to procreate aggressively, the caveman in us hungers for that Rolex, or Lamborghini — or Apple. And the caveman, thinking with his genitals, will sacrifice a lot (pay an irrational price) for the chance to impress.” 

He claims Facebook is always listening with the microphone in your phone with the most sinister of intent and has a citation to back it up. When you check that citation, it is an article that states that this claim is likely not completely true, but provides steps on how to revoke microphone access to the Facebook app just in case. This article also links to Facebook’s official press site that (of course) states they only use the microphone when you are actively using the app for a feature that requires audio capture, such as live streaming, and that captured audio does not contribute to the ads you are shown. That Galloway doesn’t caveat this in his writing directly instead of relying on the reader to flip through his footnotes is completely irresponsible, and he knows exactly what he’s doing by sowing FUD to get you to nod your head with him as you blithely read on. 

Given that this is a 2-Star Book in my opinion, and not a 1-Star Book — here’s why: there are some decent bits in here, but not many. I’ve tried to separate the wheat from the chaff, and here’s where I’ve landed:
- History favors the bold, and compensation favors the meek 
- Benjamin Button economy: a concept by which companies like Facebook and Google and their products age in reverse, getting better and better with more usage, quite unlike your Nike running shoes. Invest in Benjamin Button companies, and you’ll build a nice nest egg
- Here are the 8 key factors that explain why Apple/Amazon/Google/Facebook have risen to power in such an astounding manner: product differentiation, visionary capital, global reach, likability, vertical integration, AI / lots of user data, accelerant for careers as a talent draw, and desirable geography 

All told, I cannot recommend anyone contribute to the success of this book, or the goober behind it. He says that these companies are so commonly known and written about by armchair pundits who think they’re on to something new that no one’s ever thought of before, and he’s partially right. 
116 reviews40 followers
March 13, 2018
I agreed with several reviewers that the book uncovered few new insights, yet my biggest issue was the author’s lack of focus. The book tried to cross among business strategy, business history and self-help genres, unfortunately failed to stand out in any.
The contents within each chapter could have used better organization and less digression. One had to weed out non-essential chatters, like the author’s ideology in social responsibilities and the detailed account regarding to his boardroom setback at New York times, to get to some of the most valuable messages.
The four chapters dedicated to the four companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google respectively went from good, satisfactory, subpar to poor. And the rest of the book was not much more than common sense.
The essential takeaway of the book was the moat, or sustainable competitive advantage, of each of the four companies the author dubbed horsemen. Here I shared most of Galloway’s points, including Amazon’s low cost of capital, Apple’s premium brand segmentation, Facebook’s relationship nurturing and Google’s role as the epic information center. However when it comes to implementations, I’m not convinced that establishing low-cost universities would strengthen Apple’s eco system, nor do I believe Facebook has the resources and ability to police fake news, while NVIDIA is already capable of creating realistic image of fake celebs.
Also I think Microsoft is already the fifth horseman, given its unparalleled position in enterprise markets and its cloud momentum. All the companies mentioned above target a mixture of consumer and commercial markets, Microsoft's heavy focus on the production (work) side, rather than the consumption (play) side, should position it well in the marketplace going forward.
Overall I think there are more insightful books out there on the subject.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,885 reviews1,922 followers
May 24, 2022
Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded up because it's just too important not to push up its valuation above the place it merits

The Publisher Says: The acclaimed NYU business professor's tour-de-force on the true nature of technology's titans, and what happens next in their struggle to dominate our lives.

Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are in an unprecedented race towards a $1 trillion valuation—and whoever gets there first will exert untold influence over our economy, public policy, and consumer behavior. How did these four become so successful? How high can they continue to rise? Does any other company stand a chance of competing?

To these questions and more, acclaimed NYU / Stern professor Scott Galloway brings bracing answers. In his highly provocative first book, he pulls back the curtain on exactly how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google built their massive empires. While the media spins tales about superior products and designs, and the power of technological innovation, Galloway exposes the truth about these "Four Horsemen":
- None of these four are first movers technologically; they've either copied, stolen, or acquired their ideas.
- Each company uses evolutionary psychology to appeal to our basest instincts: Amazon, our need to hunt and gather; Apple, our need to procreate; Facebook, our need for love; and Google, our need for a God.
- These companies are uniquely successful at leveraging competitive advantage built by digital and then protected by analog moats, from an empire of retail stores (Apple) to the world's most efficient physical distribution network (Amazon.)

Through analysis that's both rigorous and entertaining, Galloway outlines the path for the next trillion-dollar company (the Fifth Horseman) and points to which companies are in the running. (Uber, sure; less obvious, Microsoft and Starbucks.) As with Peter Thiel's Zero to One, readers will come away with fresh, game-changing insights about what it takes to win in today's economy.


My Review
: There is no spectacle more repugnant, even repulsive, than naked greed being slaked without shame or even modesty. That is where we are now, as a society, in large part because these four corporations have enabled this behavior in their minions as well as demonstrated it in themselves. A trillion-dollar valuation as a business? It's the avowed goal of all four of these metastatic money pits.

Go watch this explainer on the difference between a million somethings and a billion somethings. It's sobering. Even chilling. And a trillion is yet another order of magnitude greater!

Now think about what this represents...what staggering greed it represents to pursue this goal of creating that much excess at the expense of any and all other goals or principles. Author Galloway has done that thinking. He does not like the principles The Four have utterly abandoned, flouted, or subverted. It is incredible to me that this naked greed, this pathology of psychological orientation, is so celebrated. To the point that the business news cycles are dominated by the horse-race between these bloated-bank-account barons of bad business practice.

I confess that Author Galloway isn't a cicerone I enjoyed being led by. I suspect I'd deeply dislike him if we met in person because he is, while intelligent and savvy, nowhere near as witty or insightful as he seems to think he is. He's boastful and he's arrogant. What he isn't is wrong. He is quite clear that the way these corporate scum (my term, not his) are in fact harming the very economy that they rely on for their income. In the end, that will be their challenge and he (like me) is dubious about their ability to change their course: Change, or die in a welter of your own hemorrhaging money.

Schadenfreude leads me to laugh a hearty bray of triumph. Except I won't fail to suffer in their gargantuan collapse.

On Wednesday, 29 July 2020, and days forward, the four horse-manuremen of the datapocalypse will testify before Congress about their insane, untrammeled greed and its deleterious effect on Society. I presupposed a more condign end result of the hearing here because I am under no obligation to hide my own opinion of these nauseating monopolists...but now, in May 2022, Congress is looking beadily at them again with an eye to figuring out how much their greed has fueled our present 8%-plus annual rate of inflation.
Profile Image for Quintin Zimmermann.
229 reviews33 followers
September 20, 2017
Scott Galloway equates the Big Four - Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon - to the Four Horseman of god, love, sex and consumption respectively.

The author proceeds to examine and deconstruct the strategies that the Four employed in becoming the present giants of industry, the exploitation of their own mythologies and consumer habits as well as their overt and covert anti-competitive techniques to stifle their competition.

This is all extremely illuminating, but there isn't much new here that you aren't able to read elsewhere. The prominence of these ubiquitous companies in our daily lives means that they are already subject to extensive research and analysis in many books, publications, research papers and articles.

Scott Galloway does make a concerted effort to draw business lessons from the Four, but I find this part unconvincing as you cannot extrapolate success from the unique circumstances and individuals that birthed the Four. Great success requires ingenuity, not imitation.

However, it is seldom that you have the convenience of all Four being the subject matter of one singular book. It is further interesting how these four divergent companies are slowly, but inexorably encroaching upon each other's special areas of expertise in the race to become the first trillion dollar company.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
December 15, 2017
This is terrifying and hilarious and necessary. Everyone should be reading this—especially policy makers and young people. The horsemen of the apocalypse will not be faceless nameless terrifying beasts. They’ll be the friendly trustworthy platforms we all use. What do we even do as consumers? That’s the most depressing part. We need the ease and speed of amazon because we’re too overworked to sown our days at Target. As for apple, he’s got my number. Why have I been holding on to the fancy boxes my iPhones come in? They know our primal instincts and are cleverly exploiting them. As for Google as God, that was spot on.
Profile Image for Bernd Schiffer.
105 reviews41 followers
November 15, 2017
According to the book description, "…Galloway [the author] exposes the truth about these 'Four Horsemen"'. For me, his explanations and comments are utterly sensational and without any substance. The author is also not considering important aspects, therefore only delivering half (or even less) of the story.

I stopped reading at the beginning of the third chapter. The first chapter is an overall introduction, the second is about Amazon, the third about Apple. In the second chapter, the author pictured Amazon as wanting growth for the sake of world domination, without even considering their aim for being No 1 in regards to customer satisfaction. The impression I got was that the author wants people to know that Amazon is evil and that it tries to rule the world and that it must be dealt with.

What really put me off is the author's crusade against Amazon the job killer. Amazon's fulfilment centres are a bad thing because they are automated which is what eliminates jobs. No mention of the reduction of costs resulting in cheaper prices for customers. No mention of fast(er) delivery service and therefore better service. But instead a populistic boss bashing at the end of the chapter: "What’s clear is that we need business leaders who envision, and enact, a future with more jobs—not billionaires who want the government to fund, with taxes they avoid, social programs for people to sit on their couches and watch Netflix all day. Jeff, show some real fucking vision." It's an utterly one-sided and cliched view. It fuels unsubstantiated FUD (fear, doubt, uncertainty) in the already suspicious but uninformed reader.

I put the book aside when the author "discussed" the issue of Apple not willing to comply with a court order for the government to be able to unlock the iPhone. This is how the author wrote down his view of one of Apple's arguments here: "Apple, by creating a new IOS that allowed the FBI to open the phone with brute force, would create a backdoor that could not be contained and could end up in the wrong hands (SPECTRE?)" SPECTRE, the organisation from the James Bond franchise which stands for 'Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion'? The author brings this up and belittles the whole point, instead of reflecting on the impact on the right of privacy (4th amendment).

The final nail in the coffin in which I'm going to bury this book in for me was his further thoughts about Apple's argument above: "My response to the first claim: If Apple was creating a back door for others to use, it was a pretty unimpressive door. More like a doggy door. Apple estimated that it would take six to ten engineers a month to figure this out. That ain’t the Manhattan Project. Apple also maintained this key could end up in the wrong hands and prove hugely dangerous. We aren’t talking about the microchip that gave rise to the Terminator, which travels back in time to destroy all humanity." Manhattan Project? The impact of a product is unrelated to the time it took to build it. Terminator? How is that even related to this point? The problem of a backdoor like this is that it could lead into a potential 1984 scenario, which is concerning on its own, but undoubtedly horrible when viewed in the context of everything Edward Snowden revealed in the past. Snowden is not mentioned even once in the whole book.

I was looking forward to reading a book that is intelligently critical about the Four. Instead, this book only rambles against cliche views of technology companies on rainbow press niveau.
Profile Image for Gretchen Alice.
1,049 reviews91 followers
November 29, 2017
My library is the coolest. For our staff holiday party, we arranged a Secret Santa book exchange where you'd be paired up with someone who read different genres from you*. Their assignment was to pair you up with a book outside of your normal reading patterns** and my "santa" gave me The Four, since I don't read a whole lot of nonfiction. This is exactly the kind of book where I would read the jacket copy, think "oh, that looks interesting," and then never get around to reading it.
Scott Galloway presents a convincing argument for the legitimacy and domination of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. He calls them "the four horsemen" and goes into how each of them became such a massive world power. They each appeal to different needs of ours--social connection, information seeking, product acquisition, and luxury. Galloway acknowledges the fact that none of them are inherently good, so to speak, but none of them are necessarily evil, either. (Well, maybe Facebook.) I rely on each of these things on a pretty much daily basis and it was strange to confront how much I depend on them. (I'm trying to wean myself off of my personal facebook, but it's still a thing I need for work and that kinda sucks!) Eventually, other companies will likely come along and upset the balance of power, though that might take a while.
Some of Galloway's analogies were overdone and lots of the finance stuff went over my head, so I'm not a total nonfiction convert just yet. But I did greatly enjoy getting outside of my comfort zone. I loved reading and thinking about something different.

* My husband: "So...you gave each other homework."
Me: "Yeah, it's great!"
My husband: "Nerds."
**I can't wait to hear what my recipient thinks of my choice for them!
April 29, 2018
1. Feel weird about buying this on Amazon
2. Too many fun facts
3. Disorganized and surface level

Pockets of insight
Profile Image for Lyn.
111 reviews6 followers
March 11, 2018
What’s with this guy’s fixation on sex? Look, I know sexual attraction is a huge part of marketing and humanity’s base instincts, yatta yatta. But he talks about it so much! Always making everything out to be about wanting to get laid and how this guy with that product probably has never been laid and this woman with that product would never have sex with that guy.... etc, etc. If this was written by a guy in his 20s or 30s I’d probably be just as annoyed but just roll my eyes. But this is a guy in his 50s talking constantly about sex like a teenager with raging hormones. Talk about immature. Not to mention slightly creepy.

There was some interesting information in this book and I did learn some stuff from reading it. However, the author’s personality and writing style is just irritating.
Profile Image for Melora.
575 reviews141 followers
June 29, 2019
This would have been quite a lot better (and shorter) if he had skipped the sophomoric attempts at humor, preening self-promotion, and rants about how various companies would have succeeded in competing with "the four" if only they had followed his wise advice. There were some interesting bits, but not enough.
Profile Image for Filip Struhárik.
69 reviews266 followers
September 29, 2019
Pre mňa bolo zaujímavé čítať najmä o tom, ako sa autor knihy pokúsil v rokoch 2008 - 2010 ovládnuť redakciu New York Times, zmeniť stratégiu firmy, stiahnuť všetky články z Googlu a tým zachrániť Timesy aj žurnalistiku ako takú.

Scott Galloway má z výšky svojho ega pocit, že do najlepšej redakcie sveta doniesol myšlienky, aké tam predtým ani potom už nikdy nikto nemal, že mal odhodlanie, no narazil na pribrzdených ľudí, ktorí nerozumejú modernej dobe. Jasné, médiá zaspali dobu, no to neznamená, že Galloway im mohol pred 10 rokmi akokoľvek pomôcť.

Svoju knihu napísal tri roky po tom, ako v New York Times urobili tzv. Innovation Report, štúdiu ktorá hodnotila nedostatky redakcie v digitálnej dobe. Do knihy o tom nezmestil ani vetičku, lebo sa mu to nehodilo. On sa totiž potreboval tváriť, že New York Times sú na webe stále nemožní a od jeho odchodu z firmy sa nikam neposunuli. Faktom však je, že Innovation Report bola miliónkrát trefnejšia, lepšia a vykonateľnejšia, než všetky Gallowayove úvahy dokopy. New York Times medzičasom urobili obrovské inovácie, no Galloway sa stále tvári, že čitateľom nerozumejú.

The Four ale nie je len Timesoch. Je o štyroch veľkých firmách (Facebook, Google, Amazon a Apple), popisuje príčiny ich úspechu a jedinečnosti - občas trefne, občas len banálne. Nezorientový človek sa veľa dozvie, zorientovaný má s čím nesúhlasiť.

Treba tiež ale povedať, že Gallowayov štýl je neznesiteľný, metafory sú vrcholom infantilnosti a neustála potreba vysvetľovať správanie ľudí len cez sexuálny pud (muži majú rozmnožovanie v génoch, preto chcú Rolexky a Apple) hovorí viac o limitoch autora knihy ako o realite.
Profile Image for Diego.
95 reviews21 followers
January 29, 2018
This book is excellent.
Galloway deep dives into how these companies know how to exploit our primal instincts. Extremely interesting take. It’s hard to argue he’s wrong. I wish I could take his class at NYU, but like he mentioned, they charge $62K per class, $500 per minute, and it’s criminal.

Amazon will take over the world; many jobs in retail will disappear. Bezos is a genius, and secretly and in plain sight, evil. I have Amazon stock, so I’m ok with it. Though it’s not my fault, can other companies compete? Very difficult since Amazon has so much capital to do whatever the hell they want. I’d be surprised if they didn’t place their 2nd HQ in Washington DC, they can become much more politically involved.

Apple is the luxury branding prime example. Amazing they have only 16% of the market, but over 90% of the cellphone profits. Wow. Great quote, “The world needs more homes with better engaged parents, not a better fucking phone.” Steve Jobs is idolized too much and was pretty much a terrible person. This may be more apparent in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs book.

The Facebook section could really freak some people out. Haha. I knew they personalized ads based on what you are looking at and typing, but not that it can hear background noise. They are able to personalize what people see based on interest, thus they get info on their silo’d views. This is a problem as evident by perceived fake news on Facebook. Wrong info can radicalize idiots and push their beliefs into what they think are facts. Aka. Trump being elected. Pretty much sounds like Facebook will be the contributor to the end of the world by feeding what people are interested to see based on their beliefs. They only take a platform stance which is irresponsible. At some breaking point, government would have to step in.

The Google chapter is not as clear, it seems to be half a story about the search engine being God and his story in the New York Times board...and failing to work with them. Google is confusing as it’s only a search engine, it’s unclear how their stock price continues to grow, but they do have a stronghold on advertising. They are intriguing.
I find it interesting it’s better to break the law and lie rather than not, it’s the smarter business choice in their industries. “Is the government going to turn against Wall Street and millions of consumers?” Likely not. The Four will continue to push boundaries, but also control their industry since they are the only one of their kinds. Eventually they will be beaten.

His next chapters are about the next potential companies that could derail the Four. His common standards for company success is brilliant in regards to these similar companies, though most of them relate to all businesses. Cheap capital, product differentiation, talent, etc. The relatively new outlier is big data and A.I.

I also like the section on what it takes to be part of the Four and to be exceptional in a world of average individuals. A sort of self help portion. He owns six businesses, so he has empirical evidence of talent. First, is to work hard, don’t be a jerk, and help others. That is the basic level, but still billions can do this. Next is emotional intelligence or maturity, this determines how you are able to handle stress and work with others on tough projects. Women are more emotionally mature and at an earlier age. I agree with him that women are the future. I’ve found that having a woman boss is better since I don’t have to weave through an ego. It’s just about getting shit done in an open format.
Another skill is always challenging the existing process, being curious. Growing companies that handle change need this otherwise complacency will kill it from the inside.
A Bezos quote that resonates with my company, “What kills mature companies is an unhealthy adherence to process.”

Another is ownership. Extreme ownership. Similar to the book by the navy seals. Own up to everything. Ego, failures, team, change, etc. This can also show that a person has grit, the ability to see something through until the end no matter how hard it is.

This also assumes that you need to go to college. That is important. You make more in a lifetime just because of it. But a major portion is that a person grows the most there. I thank college for my personal growth, not just education. I was extremely immature and culture shocked, my grades were mediocre, but in the end, it helped me mature and realize the real world is out there. Education is assumed and many smart people exist, but these traits are what separate you from the pack. College helps with that.
One major problem is college is getting way too expensive. I firmly believe that rising tuition will be a major contributor to rising income inequality.

Other tid bits:
- Move to a city. They are hubs of innovation and investment.
- Invest in yourself and your strengths. Improve your weaknesses just enough so they no longer hold you back.
- How to manage young people: clear objectives, metrics, invest in them, and empathy. Personally I’ve noticed they don’t work well with ambiguity; they become unhappy and don’t hide it. They won’t work hard just because.
- Be loyal to people. People help one another if you help them. If your boss is not helping you, you either have a bad boss, or you are a bad employee.
- Don’t follow your passion, that’s bullshit. Follow your talent.
- People who complain about others and how they got screwed, are well, losers.
- Exercise will help enable grit, and will help you handle stress.

I appreciate he recognizes that these four companies are contributing to income inequality and are dangerous to our economic society. They employ 418K employees together, but are worth 2.3 trillion. The same as the GDP of France. But he is not a political analyst, so no further is mentioned.

Again, this book is excellent. Confirms my stock holding positions. Only reason I may not be buying more is the impending impeachment, which may dip the market. We’ll see.
Profile Image for Rafal.
314 reviews18 followers
July 5, 2019
Bardzo amerykańska książka. I to nie jest komplement. Napisana jest w takim akademicko-wyluzowanym stylu, który na początku jest dowcipny a potem zaczyna być drażniący.

Ale przejdźmy do zalet. 2/3 książki to opis działania Wielkiej Czwórki GAFA. Oraz jej wpływ - zwykle destrukcyjny - na gospodarkę, społeczeństwo, politykę, wolność słowa, ekologię i wiele innych rzeczy. To są bardzo rzeczowe argumenty, trudno je zakwestionować, nawet gdyby się chciało, a ja nie chcę. Zgadzam się z nimi i zgadzam się, że GAFA robi na świecie wiele zła. Najoczywistszym jest unikanie płacenia podatków a to tylko jedna z wielu spraw; za ideałami wolnościowymi i rozwojem technologicznym kryje się zwykła pogoń za kasą - a koszta ponosimy i będziemy ponosić wszyscy. Coraz większe koszta społeczne, polityczne i gospodarcze.

Ostatniej części mogłoby nie być. To akademicko-motywacyjne dyrdymały o tym jak odnieść sukces w biznesie. Tylko przeskanowałem tę część, ale i tak trafiłem na fragment, w którym autor pisze coś przekuriozalnego - może GAFA to samo zło, ale i tak trzeba z nich korzystać, żeby być na czasie i nie wypaść z obiegu. Hm...

Nie było więcej takich intelektualnych niespójności, natomiast uderzyła mnie inna rzecz. Gdy czyta się No Logo, Głód, czy nawet Kapitał XXI wieku, to czuć w tych książkach pasję. Autorzy widzą problem w funkcjonowaniu społeczeństwa czy gospodarki i są tym wzburzeni. Piszą, bo uważają, że należy szybko coś z tym problemem zrobić. Podają rozwiązania, demaskują winnych, wzywają do działania i walki ze złem.

W tej książce tego nie ma. W tym sensie także jest akademicka. Autor analizuje zjawiska i momentami jest niemal rozbawiony tym, jak wszyscy dają się robić w bambuko. Jego to nie wzburza, jego to bawi. A czasem jest jeszcze gorzej, bo w tekście pobrzmiewa zawiść; autor jest biznesmenem i momentami słychać, że zazdrości założycielom GAFA, że oni wpadli na coś, czego on nie wymyślił.

Mam dodatkowo zastrzeżenia do tłumaczenia. Sądzę, że tłumacz nie siedzi w języku biznesowym, bo - to tylko jeden z przykładów - bezustannie nazywa prezesów zarządu, czy dyrektorów generalnych - dyrektorami naczelnymi. Jest też sporo fragmentów, w których kwestie biznesowe są dość zawiłe i niestety widać, że tłumaczone są wyraz po wyrazie bez zrozumienia treści.

Reasumując: warto było przeczytać. Wiedza, jaka z tego płynie jest fascynująca. Lubię fragmenty tej książki (i daję za to ⭐⭐⭐) , ale autora nie lubię nic a nic.
Profile Image for Susan.
242 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2017
Not particularly new information, but a nice clear analysis of how these companies came to be as big and successful as they are. On the one hand Galloway seems to be primarily impressed by their succes, on the other hand, luckily, he's also critical:"The world needs more homes with engaged parents, not a better fucking phone."

I was disappointed coming to the end of the book where Galloway gives career advice on how to be as successful as these companies. Apparently it would be worth it to work at least 80 hours a week. I sincerely hope our youth realizes there is more to life. "Only hire A-s, because A-s only hire A-s, while Bs hire Cs. Winners recognize other winners; while also-rans can be threatened by competitors."
Profile Image for Diana Nassar.
28 reviews99 followers
December 20, 2017
If you don't want to read a whole book on each of The Four tech giants then, obviously, this book is for you.
Scott Galloway captures the strategy, strength, and "wow" factors of each of these companies by mapping them to the Four Hoursemen of god, love, sex, and consumption [guess which is which. Daha.]. I think this mapping methodology, besides being catchy, made the book quite relevant and easy to follow.
However, in my personal opinion, this mapping limited the comprehensiveness of the book. I disliked the chapter about Google. I think there is much more to Google than linking it to New York Times [and writing more stuff about NYT than about Google itself!]. Having read a couple of books about Google, I would not say this is the best resource to learn about Google strategy.
Amazon chapter, on the other hand, was quite comprehensive, relevant, and even scary.
I especially enjoyed the "business and body" concept; the "fact" that all successful businesses appeal to one of three areas of the body [brain/heart/genitals] and that part ends up pretty much determining the strategy and outcomes of that business.
Who is going to win the 1 Trillion race? Who is going to be the Fifth Horesman? Galloway makes a couple of interesting guesses.
An enjoyable and short read. Galloway's writing style is direct and so full of humor. I recommend it!
Profile Image for Daniel Clausen.
Author 11 books458 followers
January 28, 2021
Scott Galloway is a thinker that I just happened to stumble upon last year. He's a business professor who has some very cogent things to say about everything from technology, to politics, to investing, to marketing. And he has an entertainer's flair for delivery.

At one point the book digresses from discussing the Big 4 tech companies to discussing advice for young people or people looking to navigate a world dominated by the big 4.

One of Professor Galloway’s best pieces of advice: Know your medium.

What medium is the best for you to communicate with?

I actually don’t think the book form is Professor Galloway’s best medium.

This book comes off as very conversational, even vernacular. It seems like a transcribed lecture or the accompanying guide to Youtube video. Since his youtube videos and newletters are great, I urge you to subscribe to Professor Galloway’s youtube channel or his newsletter. Those are his better mediums...and they are excellent.

The book is fine. Well organized, concise, with a very simple visual style for demonstrating data. All of this works, but it also often lacks gravitas. Perhaps that’s because Professor Galloway is writing about something that is in motion. The relationship of the Big 4 to you, themselves, and the world is changing all the time.

So, the book doesn't seem to want to be iconic or classic the way some other books do.

That's okay because the book also commits a cardinal virtue -- it bends over backwards to try to be useful.

One section of the book I read three times: Pimp Your Career. It’s a short section about how professionals need to sell themselves. Yes! That’s the skill I need to learn. The second to last chapter is a backdoor pilot for his next book -- The Algebra of Success. I may choose to read that book...but again, I feel like I get the same remarkable content from his Youtube videos and newsletters, but with more personalized panache.
180 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2018
This was a very shallow overview of four large tech companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google). If you follow basic tech industry news, you will learn nothing new. The author, Scott Galloway, is a professor at NYU Stern and thinks that learning about these 4 companies should be the entire curriculum of the second year of business school. This claim did not help establish his credibility to me. He ends every write up of a company by making larger statement about society and adding some pithy phrasing, like "Jeff, show some real fucking vision" (referring to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon). I don't think he has enough credibility to do mic drops like that.

At the end, it turns into a generic life advice book, which I did not expect or appreciate.

I liked that this book was not too long. I also liked Galloway's description of trying to make changes at NYTimes, and found his failure to do so to be interesting. It was the only story he really had to tell that wasn't just cribbed from existing tech journalism.
Profile Image for Mina.
361 reviews6 followers
November 25, 2017
"My nightmare job is the "invisible until you fuck up" position. It's never been a better time to be exceptional, or a worse time to be average."
Profile Image for Steven.
162 reviews25 followers
December 9, 2017
Definitely worth the read, just skip the last three chapters.
146 reviews3 followers
October 2, 2017
‘The Four’ considers the enormous power accrued – for good and for (tax-avoiding, job-destroying, fake news-propagating) ill – by the big four technology giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

This examination takes place at a very interesting time for, as author Scott Galloway makes abundantly clear, the only competition the Four face is from each other, and the race is now on between them to become the premier operating system.

The first half of the book looks at the history of retail and the business strategies of each of the Four (such as the inspired decision to transition Apple from a tech to a luxury brand and to move into retail), whilst the second half chiefly considers the Four’s relations with governments and competitors and suggests future trends.

Galloway most definitely knows what he’s talking about. Now Professor of Marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, he previously founded or co-founded nine firms, some of which foundered at the hands of the Four. These experiences have not embittered him. On the contrary, he writes not only with great insight but also with considerable humour, not least about the origins of our consumerist cravings.

In so doing, Galloway occasionally overstates his case, as when he writes that, “At its core, Apple fills two instinctual needs: to feel closer to God and be more attractive to the opposite sex.” The bald facts are already sufficiently astonishing - Apple has “a cash pile greater than the GDP of Denmark, the Russian stock market, and the market cap of Boeing, Airbus and Nike combined” - for there to be any need for this kind of hyperbole.

This book is by turns frightening and funny, depressing (on the demise of quality print journalism) and visionary (on the possibility of a tuition-free university).

I cannot recommend it too highly, as it is both a superb eye-opener and an entertaining page-turner.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
684 reviews34 followers
November 7, 2020
Scott Galloway is one of those guys who thinks he's cool and comes over to you at a party and tells you about the stock market and how men and women work and global politics but in such a way that you just feel like he's enveloping you in slime the whole time and he thinks he's won over the women because they smile and nod nicely really hoping he'll go away or being so polite that they gingerly say "oh wow, haha!"
At least that's how his book reads. It's also how he describes himself. "That's why people attend my talks. I'm free to tell the truth. Or at least pursue the truth. I get it wrong all the time!" Exhausting.

And goddamn. All the talk about luxury and hunter gatherers and men wanting to be flashy for as much spreading of their seed as possible. Fucking hell. Evolutionary Psychology isn't real science. It's what some people who grew up in heavy gender norms 'theorized' in order to put some data together and sell some pompous article (obviously you don't sell an article but you can get fame from them and isn't that the same thing?) Like was this written in the 90s? jesus.

Anyway. So LSS: Apple is sexy luxury, Amazon is robotics, Google is hoarding all the data, Facebook has everybody by the network.

I did enjoy the skewering of Apple customers for rationalizing wanting a luxury item by citing simplicity and functionality. And the pointing out that marketing to luxury goods buyers is easy because as people consider themselves more deserving of luxury they assimilate. Thus luxury brands sell the same stuff everywhere. Non-luxury items hire ethnographers and study new markets to customize. Exactly the inverse of the Apple breaking the mold view.
Profile Image for Ilinca.
283 reviews
October 13, 2017
It's such an interesting topic, and he's such a brilliant guy - I'm disappointed this was not a better book. It's worth reading, but it's such a weird jumble of fact and opinion, with advice thrown in for young entrepreneurs or who knows who, that it's hard to pinpoint what it's good for.
I loved his recent interviews on how heavy regulation is coming for Google and Facebook, and on Facebook and its ad screening potential. He seems a genuinely smart guy. And yet - I can't even remember what the book was about. The chapter on Apple is more or less a rant (and I'm not in the Apple camp, not even with the tip of a toe, but even I thought he was a bit heavy-handed there), and there is very little argument about what Google and Facebook are if they are not platforms, so I don't know, I guess he's better in short form, where he has to be concise and to the point, than book-length, where he gets lost in details and misses the mark.
Still an interesting read, just wish it were better.
Profile Image for Vivian Đình.
323 reviews273 followers
June 20, 2018
Hay và thú vị tới mức táo bạo!!

Phần đầu hơi khó đọc, nhất là đối với mấy đứa không chuyên về kinh tế như mình, nhiều thuật ngữ chuyên ngành quá làm mình hơi nản tí. Nhưng sang những phần sau, từ đoạn giới thiệu về Apple, Facebook trở đi thì bắt đầu đọc không ngừng luôn. Tác giả viết rất thẳng tay, táo tợn, ý kiến ngược hẳn với những định nghĩa trước giờ về bộ tứ này, làm mình mở mang hẳn khá nhiều kiến thức mới lạ và thú vị về họ.

Tuy nhiên nhiều khúc tác giả còn hơi cá nhân hóa ý kiến bản thân, tạo cảm giác tác giả biết tất, hiểu rất rõ về bộ tứ này, đưa ra ý kiến hơi phiến diện chảnh tí nhưng cho 1 like cho ông vì độ thẳng tính và dám nghĩ dám làm của ông. Nói chung là một cuốn sách đáng đọc!
Profile Image for Donna.
3,901 reviews18 followers
October 16, 2017
This is a nonfiction/science/technology book. The author focuses in on Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google and does a nice little analysis on how these monsters have managed to corner the market. My inner geek found this kind of fascinating. It was amusing, and I enjoyed the sarcastic humor. That part was 4 stars.

Now this did feel a little long, and towards the end, it unravels a bit....so 3 stars.
January 8, 2021
This book did give some interesting insights into the companies but became very boring and annoying.

The first half of this book consists of four chapters on the four companies, which for the most part was good. The writing is informal, which I don't mind but every chapter (near enough every page) went on a tangent to the points that were being made. If the book was more concise I would've definitely given more stars. The second half of the book becomes very annoying with more, longer extraneous examples and I nearly stopped reading it.

I would reccomend this book (the first half) to give perspective on the companies and to get a gauge on the scale of them. Its not a very long book but would have benefitted from being shorter.
Profile Image for Naila (aka Bookish ‘N the 6ix).
73 reviews25 followers
September 16, 2018
There was some good information on how the 4 Giants became successful but overall it didn’t feel like anything new and the author didn’t really offer the insights I hoped to make this a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for د.أمجد الجنباز.
Author 3 books773 followers
October 2, 2020
تم تأليف هذا الكتاب في عام ٢٠١٧

الكتاب يتحدث عن شركات ٤ تسيطر على العالم، أسماها "الفرسان الأربعة"، وهي فيسبوك وجوجل وأمازون وآبل

بدأت قراءة الكتاب العام الماضي، يحوي معلومات مثيرة، لكني توقفت بعد عدة فصول، لسبب جوهري.

لماذا اختار هذه الشركات الأربعة دون غيرها. فإن كان السبب هو سعر الشركة، فمايكروسوفت أكبر من فيسبوك وجوجل
وإن كان النمو، فأوبر وإير بي ان بي أسرع نموا

لم أكمل الكتاب لأني ببساطة لم اقتنع عن سبب اختيار الشركات هذه

قبل أشهر في منتصف ٢٠٢٠ طلب الكونغرس بعقد لقاء مباشر مع الرؤساء التنفيذيين للشركات الأربعة الأكثر تحكما في العالم، ماذا اختار الكونغرس؟

اختار الأربع شركات نفسها!

على ما يبدوا، أني الوحيد الذي لم يفهم السبب. لذلك أمسكت الكتاب مرة أخرى، وكان محتواه عبارة عن صدمة تلو الأخرى

الحقائق الأهم عن هذه الشركات لا أعرفها
فآبل، ليست شركة تقنية
أمازون هي الشركة التي ستقضي على مفهوم البراندنج
وجوجل هي الإله الجديد، الذي نسأله كل شيئ، ويجيبنا عن معظم الأسئلة
وفيسبوك هي أكبر شركة مخادعة وكاذبة في العالم، والجميع يكرهها، والجميع لن يتمكن من التخلي عنها

في النهاية يضع الكتاب القواعد المشتركة بين هذه الشركات، ويقوم بوضع تنبؤ عن الشركة الخامسة التي ستأتي (في الحقيقة يضع عدة احتمالات لمن ستكون الشركة الخامسة، ويضع نقاط ضعف كل شركة من الشركات المقترحة).

أهم مفهوم في الكتاب هو
Reverse Aging

سأحاول لاحقا أن ألخص أكثر من أفكار الكتاب ، إن كان لدي الوقت والنفس
Profile Image for Manh Cuong.
8 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2022
Der Autor hat in seinem Buch die 4 Technologie Unternehmen vorgestellt und dabei auch die schlechten Seiten hervorgehoben. Fand ich sehr gut und nachvollziehbar.
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