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Big Revolution - Becoming the 'everything everything'

Welcome to the start of another week of the newsletter. Let's dive straight in, shall we? — Martin fr
July 22 · Issue #477 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to the start of another week of the newsletter. Let’s dive straight in, shall we?
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Google has settled a lawsuit over its unauthorised collection of data from unsecured WiFi networks via Street View cars back in 2010. The settlement is worth  just $13m, much less than had been expected by some.
  • HQ Trivia recently turned down new funding that would have valued the company at less than its previous round, Digiday reports. The news comes as company is lining up subscriptions and programmatic advertising as possible ways of driving revenue beyond its existing in-app purchases. Will the troubled app-based media company survive much longer?
The big thought
Credit: Daniel Eledut on Unsplash
Becoming the ‘everything everything’
I remember when I was about 15, I took the 10-minute walk from my school to the bus stop while daydreaming about a future when I ran a company that made and sold everything. I’d have a record label but also sell CD players, I’d build houses and sell all the furniture to go inside them. I’d grow and sell food and run the shops and restaurants in which they were sold.
What’s more, I’d be so good at it that all my rivals would go out of business or be acquired by me, until I owned the whole market for everything that could be sold. My company, called 'Telstar’ for some reason, would sell everything to almost everyone. That flight of fancy that has stuck with me over the years.
Around the same time as I was dreaming up Telstar on my way to the bus stop, Jeff Bezos was busy founding Amazon, a company that is gradually becoming something approaching my imaginary firm.
The EU’s new antitrust investigation into how Amazon uses data about third-party sellers on its platform highlights one way the company is in a position to crush its competition: invite sellers in, let them make some money, then learn from their successes and adjust your own pricing and product range to outdo them. We’ll have to wait for the EU’s verdict to decide whether it does this to an anti-competitive degree, but the potential is certainly there.
And sometimes Amazon is more direct. A recent Wall Street Journal report (paywalled, but summarised here by Retail Dive) reveals how Amazon uses its accelerator programme for brands to spot successes and buy them at a fixed price.
Amazon has a growing range of its own brands covering everything from baby clothes to home decor. And while it’s not quite my imaginary Telstar yet, it certainly sells music and the hardware to play it (via Fire tablets and USB sticks, and Echo speakers), makes and delivers TV shows, sells pharmaceuticals, delivers food from restaurants, has its own grocery stores, runs the infrastructure for many, many third-party apps and services, and much more.
Even as a teenager with no in-depth knowledge of how business worked, I knew my 'Telstar’ idea was implausible, unhealthy for society, and probably illegal, and I was never serious at all about wanting to do it.
The EU’s investigation is a reminder of that when ’the everything store’ tips over into becoming 'the everything everything,’ regulators are not going to be happy. Even 15-year-old me knew that, but for some people, the urge for continual growth can blind them to the wider problems caused by their behaviour. Will Amazon be allowed to keep growing until it eclipses 'Telstar?’
One big read
My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman
A New York Times reporter tries the life of a person delivering food orders for services like Postmates and Uber Eats. It doesn’t sound like fun.
One big tweet
nilay patel
A maxed-out Escalade like this one lists for $100k but I don’t think that buys you anything exclusive anymore
11:25 PM - 21 Jul 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with more. See you in your inbox then.
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