SI­MON HUMPHREYS

The Four. Or, How To Build A Tril­lion Dol­lar Com­pany

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BOOKS -

They are by­words for growth and suc­cess. Be­tween them they have a cur­rent mar­ket val­u­a­tion in ex­cess of $2.3 tril­lion, have in­fil­trated al­most ev­ery as­pect of our lives, and dom­i­nate cy­berspace to the pos­si­ble detri­ment of real life. Please give a big hand for the four ubiq­ui­tous mono­liths of the in­ter­net age: Google, Ap­ple, Ama­zon and Face­book.

In the first part of his book, Gal­loway breezily ex­am­ines each of what he calls the ‘Four Horse­men’, and tells their fa­mil­iar sto­ries: how Ap­ple be­came the epit­ome of in­no­va­tion, as­pi­ra­tion and de­sign; how Ama­zon rev­o­lu­tionised de­liv­ery and fu­elled our never-end­ing need for con­sump­tion; how Google be­came om­ni­scient and all-pow­er­ful; and then there is Face­book with nearly two bil­lion users – a quar­ter of hu­man­ity – with

data the se­cret ser­vices would kill for, all of it in the cause of mar­ket­ing. Their growth and rise to world dom­i­na­tion is truly ex­tra­or­di­nary, the fig­ures as­tound­ing.

The sec­ond part is dis­ap­point­ing. Gal­loway iden­ti­fies eight fac­tors as be­ing cru­cial in de­vel­op­ing a su­per com­pany, none of which is a ground-break­ing in­sight. Then briefly, and wholly in­ad­e­quately, he con­sid­ers the po­ten­tial of other pre­tenders (Alibaba, Uber and Tesla) be­fore giv­ing slightly hack­neyed, ob­vi­ous ad­vice on how to get a job and suc­ceed in busi­ness.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at New York Univer­sity, with a ten­dency to bang his own drum. His style is per­son­able and ac­ces­si­ble, but too of­ten his ob­ser­va­tions are marred by sloppy writ­ing and even gra­tu­itous swear­ing.

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