Numbers of the Big Four lead to Questions


Over the past decade, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — or, as I call them, “the Four” — have aggregated more economic value and influence than nearly any other commercial entity in history. Together, they have a market capitalization of $2.8 trillion (the GDP of France), a staggering 24 percent share of the S&P 500 Top 50, close to the value of every stock traded on the Nasdaq in 2001.

How big are they? Consider that Amazon, with a market cap of $591 billion, is worth more to the stock market than Walmart, Costco, T. J. Maxx, Target, Ross, Best Buy, Ulta, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Saks/Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google (now known as Alphabet) are together worth $1.3 trillion. You could merge the world’s top five advertising agencies (WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, IPG, and Dentsu) with five major media companies (Disney, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, CBS, and Viacom) and still need to add five major communications companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish) to get only 90% of what Google and Facebook are worth together.

And what of Apple? With a market cap of nearly $900 billion, Apple is the most valuable public company. Even more remarkable is that the company registers profit margins of 32%, closer to luxury brands Hermès (35%) and Ferrari (29%) than peers in electronics. In 2016, Apple brought in $46 billion in profits, a haul larger than that of any other American company, including JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, and Wells Fargo. What’s more, Apple’s profits were greater than the revenues of either Coca-Cola or Facebook. This quarter, it will clock nearly twice the profits that Amazon has produced in its history.

Walsh wants to break up the Big Four, as does Ralph Nader. We know that Google, for example, radically discriminates against very popular and mainstream conservative news sites. NR contributors by name too, which is creepy. We’d prefer a VC solution to regulation of the info sites as public utilities, but we’re not sure how to make that work.

One Response to “Numbers of the Big Four lead to Questions”

  1. Neil Says:

    It’s probably not necessary to break up Amazon and Apple. They’re powerful, but content-neutral. As for Google and Facebook, I think a few well-placed lawsuits would demonstrate that they have lost their safe harbor from liability for libel and slander, by promoting content based on ideology. a properly motivated plaintiff’s bar would soon bring them to heel, one would think…

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