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Scott Galloway: Umpires, Not Kings

Scott Galloway | Apr 15, 2022

referree - Scott Galloway:  Umpires, Not KingsThe most prosperous societies are built around free-market competition. It’s uncomfortable — harsh even — so we’ve tried to design societies based on planning and enforced economic equality. But communism leads to stagnation, repression, and economic collapse. China’s economy went from starving its people to minting self-made female billionaires after Deng Xiaoping embraced private enterprise and competitive markets. "To get rich is glorious," he proclaimed.

Winner’s Circle

However … winners’ lust for competition wanes after they’ve won. Why let anybody on the medals podium if you can occupy higher ground and repel anybody who gets near the stage?  Imagine if the team that won the Super Bowl automatically qualified for the playoffs the next season, or started every game with a 10-point lead? In fact, the opposite happens: the best teams get the worst draft picks. The NFL may be the most successful league in the world because it doesn’t let the largest market teams leverage their scale to collect more of the lucrative TV contract: The Green Bay Packers get the same share as the New York Giants. Do well in professional soccer, and you get moved up a division to face tougher opponents — and play for greater rewards.

No field sees winners try to retract the ladder behind them more aggressively than business

See:  Ipsos Survey: Most Canadians Say (88%) We Need More Competition

Today’s largest companies offer a masterclass in anticompetitive behavior. Amazon bars sellers on its platform from offering lower prices elsewhere, then uses the information it gleans from them to design and market its own, lower-priced products. It gives favorable search results placement to vendors that use Amazon fulfillment services (for which it’s been fined $1.3 billion by the Italian government). Defenders of the company say this is all business as usual … yet Amazon lied to Congress, repeatedly, about all of it.

Apple takes a 30% cut of app revenue, which it says it needs to run the app store, but it books billions in profit instead of cleaning up obvious frauds or copycats, while giving preference to its own products over competitors. Microsoft charges more for its applications when users run them on a competing cloud provider. Google doesn’t merely sit on both sides of the digital advertising negotiation, it owns the negotiating table. And Facebook has stated that it acquired Instagram to eliminate a competitor.

In Praise of Umpires

Competition depends on rules, and rules depend on umpires. We should fight to protect competition — not winners. Because winners subvert the process. In the name of competition, they demand that their anticompetitive acts go unpunished. In the name of freedom, they insist on their right to shout down the dissenter’s voice. In the U.S., winners have funded "think tanks" and politicians, bought newspapers and cable news stations, and convinced us the umpire is our enemy.

We should fight to protect competition — not winners. Because winners subvert the process.

See:  Canada’s payment system needs more competition

Our failure to police Big Tech’s anticompetitive conduct is suppressing innovation. Despite an explosion in VC funding, the growth rate of innovative young companies has actually slowed. For startups in developing sectors, a Big Tech acquisition is a kiss of death. Yes, the folks who get acquired can take the money and run, but the sector itself dries up. Research shows that when Google and Facebook purchase a company, VC investment in that sector drops 40% within three years. When Google enters an app market category, innovation among competing apps drops 5.1% and developers flock to other categories. Apple the underdog produced the Mac, the iPod, and the iPhone. Apple the colossus charges 30% for the privilege of being on the App Store. When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Scott Galloway:  Umpires, Not KingsThe National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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