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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  13,498 ratings  ·  1,264 reviews

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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  13,498 ratings  ·  1,264 reviews

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Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 busi
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 setb
Quintin Zimmermann
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Richard Derus
Jul 27, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindled
Wednesday, 29 July 2020 The four horse-manuremen of the datapocalypse will testify before Congress about their insane, untrammeled greed and its deleterious effect on Society. (I am presupposing the end result of the hearing here because I am under no obligation to hide my own opinion of these nauseating monopolists.)
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Bernd Schiffer
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 pic
Phillip Saginario
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
1. Feel weird about buying this on Amazon
2. Too many fun facts
3. Disorganized and surface level

Pockets of insight
Gretchen Alice
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 Gallowa
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
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 a
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Engaging and interesting but the humor might not be for everyone.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 com
Diana Nassar
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel Clausen
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-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 me
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scott Galloway write a no-holds-barred account of what he feels the four horsemen of doom are up to. In two words - world domination.

A snippet:
Will their strategy—or Amazon’s—eventually emerge victorious? Or will they somehow accommodate each other and carve out a separate peace? The answer will not only decide the fate of companies, but millions of workers and households as well. What’s clear is that we need business leaders who envision, and enact, a future with more jobs—not billionaires wh
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
"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." ...more
John Plowright
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘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 th
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
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 b
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 3 stars.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely worth the read, just skip the last three chapters.
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really good book. My rating 4.5/5.
Cameron Edonya
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
"We forget most of the world's major organizations are run by humans, middle-aged humans, who have enormous egos that ensure they, on a regular basis, make an emotional/irrational decision."

"Increasingly, robots will perform many of the functions of human employees, almost as well, without annoying requests to leave early to pick up their kid from karate."

"All four do more for less, and all put people out of work."

"There's no way the economy will be able to create enough jobs to replace those be
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Galloway gives hardly any new facts about the 'four', but builds a very intriguing narrative about their characteristics that define their success. He identifies their strengths that are harder to discover on one's own:

Amazon - access to cheap capital that is infused and re-infused into the business by restricting dividends for shareholders; and the bold vision to gain competitive strengths by spending billions so that another company finds it impossible to catch up

Apple - the success is catapul
Jim Fix
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
My buyer’s remorse set in quickly. The book starts with a tribute to the author who is remarkably brighter than anyone else. He reports that he had been on the board of the New York Times (he wasn’t sought out; he bought a seat). He was asked to leave, but his legacy is: “I had turned $600 million of other people’s (The NYT’s) money into $350 million.”
The author is most proud of teaching more than 6,000 students who he claims each pay more than $100,000 in tuition. “the second year of business s
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Scott Galloway is a bad-ass business school prof (at NYU) and he's got the goods on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are taking over the world. This is either a good thing, or the final hours of the apocalypse. depending on how you think about these companies. Galloway gives you evidence for both views, and in more detail than I've seen anywhere else. There aren't really a lot of surprises -- it's just a little more thoroughgoing. But you've read most of this stuff before in pieces if you keep ...more
Apar Gupta
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Using the metaphor of the four horsemen, Galloway explains the motivations of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. Using his extensive background in marketing he poses how their amoral ambitions have posed little resistance in society or government (till now). While acknowledging the value each company has contributed to ease, convenience and functionality the book argues such individual benefits may be outranked by social harms. The Four Horsemen adds to the current stream of authorship on techn ...more
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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. ...more

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