Move Fast and Break Things

November 15, 2017

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The famous mantra “Move Fast and Break Things” was used many times by Mark Zuckerberg, one of the creators of Facebook, when the site was growing. Specifically, it means, “As developers, moving quickly is so important that the staff has to be willing to tolerate a few bugs now and then. They can be fixed later on.”

Zuckerberg has since modified this approach. But not before it became part of American culture. The growth of the digital age worldwide is moving at a breathtaking speed. Or, as writer Nick Bilton reports in the November 2017 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, “Some residents of Silicon Valley compare this phenomenon to the Industrial Revolution (1760 to 1840). In reality, that was a painful event that spanned 80 years. This time around, the swallowing of businesses by a few companies is happening in the blink of an eye.”

THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE ECONOMIC APOCALYPSE

Let’s take a close look at four companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) who have already flattened entire industries. These are public companies that continue to reorder the business universe in their image.

 

Google in Silicon Valley, California

Together they are now worth $2.5 billion, or about 13% of the entire Fortune 500. Amazon’s stock price has tripled since 2015 while Apple is currently storing $260 billion in cash. The author notes that one executive told him this,

“GOOGLE HAS AN ALGORITHM THAT PRINTS MONEY”

What’s most remarkable, or terrifying, is that no business is safe from their jaws. But here’s the clincher: the crushing fallout from Amazon has happened before. It’s no longer a unique occurrence.

Kodak (founded in 1880) was once worth more than $31 billion. Polaroid (the instant camera that appeared in 1948) used to do nearly $3 billion a year in sales. Both companies were walloped by the iPhone in 2007.

FACEBOOK HAS NO PROBLEM CRUSHING COMPETITORS

The lineup is impressive: Vine, Twitter and, most recently, Snapchat have felt the might of Facebook. Google’s prowess is seen in the vanquished legacies of search engines such as: Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo. This is before looking at how the company has ripped into the businesses surrounding classified ads and cartography (making maps).

THE HISTORY IS CHILLING, THE FUTURE IS REALLY SCARY

This year, a study by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana noted that about half of all jobs in the United States could be eliminated in the coming years due to advances in automation. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that 38% of all jobs could be eliminated in just 15 years. And, the Obama White House noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could eliminate 47% in 20 years.

THE BILLIONAIRES SEEMED FRIENDLY WITH EACH OTHER

Bilton describes a scene he observed in October of this year while attending Vanity Fair’s third annual New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. He watched Travis Kalanick (still CEO of Uber at that time) and Jeff Bezos (after Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world) laughing like old friends. They had met for the first time earlier that evening. 

 

Travis Kalanick, Cofounder of Uber Technologies, Inc.

This led him to think: At some point in the future Bezos could be enjoying dinner with someone we know nothing about today. Then lo and behold! This person turns out to be…

AN INDIVIDUAL BENT ON TOTALLY DESTROYING AMAZON

UPDATE In the Business Section of the New York Post, Friday, October 27, 2017 an article appeared with the headline “Amazon Rolls On” and the sub-headline, “Jeff’s Whole Foods pickup feeds a fantastic Q3.” The writer, Lisa Fickenscher, notes that “West Coast-based Amazon blew past analyst expectations in third-quarter earnings as North American sales soared 35%.

Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder, Amazon

Now here’s the snapper: 160,000 workers were added in the past three months. Wait a minute! Where’s all that gloom-and-doom about disappearing jobs? Let’s just hold off on that for a bit.

MAY WE SUGGEST…

The holidays are approaching at a very fast pace. Take a look at ADEA’s great selection of snazzy lingerie for all ages, sizes and shapes. This is an effortless way to shop for gifts all year – but it’s especially useful in the busy months of November and December. 

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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