WP011 - The (airport) tech business book: The Four
Software Defined Talk Members Only White Paper Exegesis Podcast, episode #11
Coté & Brandon Whichard, October 2017.

This week we look at The Four. Coté had high hopes. More importantly, we look at the medium and mechanics of a business book.

Brandon’s prep reading (!)

Some business books

In Search of Excellence vs. In Search if Stupidity.
Good to Great.
The Challenger Sales model.
The Halo Effect.

The Business Book Medium

  • How do you read these books?
  • Processing them, what to do with the content.
  • The important of foot notes.
  • A disjoint blogs-cum-book, or a cohesive narrative?
  • Using a very skeptic eye.
  • Thinking about the general audience who doesn’t study this stuff day to day.
  • Putting in context of all the other books.
  • The utility of a book for self-promotion: after all these years, a book still seems like the best thought-lord hustle.

Coté’s Random Notes

I liked this book better when it was called The Culture Code, or, don’t film-flam and flim-flam man.

The Anthony Bourdain version of Mary Meeker.

This book should be judged as an airport business book, which is what it is. Reading it as a deep look at all this is somewhat unfair, but the dude is a professor and leads up an analyst shop that was acquired by Gartner…

  • The “how people (as buyers) work” stuff is very much like that marketing book from the French guy, from the 90s. Don’t even recall what it was, need to look it up: The Culture Code.
  • E.g., pgs. 84 to 85:
  • This may all be true. And people cite similar reasoning when they pay rich premiums for Mercedes or Bentley. Luxury products have to be great. But they also signal status. They improve your procreational brand. This may not be apparent in rich neighborhoods, where it seems that almost everyone carries various Apple gadgets. How cool can you possibly be as the fourteenth person to open a MacBook in Paris’s Café de Flore? In these cases, try looking at it the other way. If Apple’s the standard, how much does a person’s attractiveness to the opposite sex suffer when he or she boots up a Dell or pulls out a Moto X to snap a picture? I’m not saying, by the way, that the sexual bounce coming from a luxury purchase will actually occur. Millions of iPhone owners sleep alone at night. But buying the luxury item triggers an emotion, a boost in serotonin that attends happiness and success. And maybe it does make you more attractive to strangers—certainly a Dell won’t. The decision to pay a premium comes from an ancient and primal urge from the lower body—even while the brain yammers on about the rational stuff.
  • E.g.: “Luxury products make no sense on a rational level. We just can’t break free of the desire to be closer to divine perfection or to procreate.” (Pg. 71)
  • Lots of bombast and brutal rhetoric, which does make it easier to read.
  • But, shit like this is just manic without good self-editing: “No. HP.com vs. the Apple Regent Street store in London is like bringing a (butter) knife to a gunfight,” pg. 90.
  • Many assertions that are sort of backed up - a strong believe in the effectiveness and Power of the people doing things here, rather than Halo Effect luck.
  • It’s pretty tedious to read these origin stories again. Galloway’s take has a fun style, but it’s just sort of Gonzo Horace and Ben. The slight difference is somewhat of a new take on how Wall Street allowed these companies to do what they do, and a total dismissal of Google’s non-search business.
  • This brings up the general problem of when an analysts/intellectual’s ideas get old and tired. I’m sort of over Ben Thompson now (rather, I’m eager to hear some new ideas and types of insights from him), Horace petered out (but I think he’s working on a book the history of [business] innovation that will likely be interesting) and until very recently (he’s back to regular blogging with good, quick-hit insights!) James Governor had run his course (albeit for 20 years / God damn good!). Getting some fresh ideas and framing is hard because you become a thought lord and unattached to reality.
  • WTF this mean? “A sector’s vulnerability is a function of price increases relative to inflation and the underlying increases in productivity and innovation.” (Pg. 93)
  • Let’s talk about these iPad Pro(?) sketches in here. What’s that all Ben and Arni use? There’s a lot going on there. A sort of Anthony Bourdain statement about street shit. It’s Wu-Tang style: intentionally rough as an aesthetic that you appreciate...why?...not because it’s authentic, because you know it’s a conceit...but because it’s choice to challenge yourself (the author) to work with an long dead, charcoaled stick to draw the Mona Lisa on a cave wall. It works for the GZA, for RTJ, Madvillen, Kool Keith Ben, and here. It’s a bit of Poe and Whitman. Cf. the original On the Road scroll. It’s sloppy but to call this stuff “raw”: it’s the opposite. It takes demonic skill to make beauty out of shit.
  • The citations in this book are crap. The result of Internet searches. There’s footnotes to Business Insider, Stastica(!), CNN Money, etc. These need to be tracked down to their original sourced and confirmed as not crap.
  • This is some really good writing: “That pair of shoes that’s following you around the internet? You’ve been targeted.” (pg. 103) [I mean, I was on my third gin in 6C when I read this, but I’m pretty sure it’s the good stuff.]
  • I’ve highlighted some of the more delightful and illustrative bombast.
  • His overview of M&A thinking/raiding for NYT is pretty good/representative, esp. selling off undervalued assets, like about.com and the NYT building.
  • Man, he is so much like The Culture Code! E.g.:
  • For anyone leading a company, knowing which realm you play in—that is, which organ you inspire—dictates business strategy and outcomes.

(Need to fix indenting below:)