“Free will” apart from its daily usage, has ancient philosophical origins. The ancient thinkers on the “problem of free will” wanted to prove that humans have control of their decisions and actions. So if you bought a table, changed a job, created a revolution, supported a political movement, you did it because you wanted to. Now for the uninitiated in the philosophical world, let me assure you that there is ample proof that there is no Free Will.
In fact Free Will itself was born to debate the concept of Determinism, another wonderful philosophical idea. The idea in its essence signifies that every decision that we take, or all actions that happen, including our own cognition and behaviour are caused by a chain of previously caused events. Many philosophers later have essentially argued that determinism and free will are compatible but we will leave that for another time. I understand that we essentially equate comfort to having control over what is going on, but if you were to fly a little above the earth and observe for a couple of centuries, the concept of free will would surely take a beating. But do excuse my philosophical ramblings. And let’s start.
So I set about to think that if indeed there is an unbroken chain of events starting back from the beginning of the universe, then philosophy aside, how would it manifest in the business world. Are businesses the collective free will of it’s leaders and employees or is the impact they have and the impact they face a chain of unbroken events happening beyond their control?For a first story we look at Amazon and the impact it has had on societies and on cities at large. We move on to the successor of the Paypal Mafia: the Tesla Mafia and how it controls or wants to control the future of EVs. We continue then on to the best chance that the Italian economy has had in decades to recover in the form of Mario Draghi. Our penultimate article, a personal favourite maps the story of a Syrian war refugee, from Syria to a refugee camp to the Olympics.And we end today with the tech wars that have become as Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft go after each other’s. Many new challengers are not far behind.
Have a good week reading
1. It would be impossible to capture the impact that Amazon has had on the world with over eight lakh employees and a line of products larger than the number of species in the Amazon forest. It is virtually Impossible to track the impact that Amazon is having not only on individual lives but on society at large. This article is a beautiful one because it does not go after the skill of Amazon or the revenue of Amazon. It rather goes after the impact Amazon has had in society and in small cities on how growth and wealth have been divided across because of its development in the last 20 years. The individuals impacted whether positively or negatively had very little control of what was happening and in many circumstances did not even have another option
2. Sila Nanotechnologies, Lucid Motors, Redwood Materials, Fisker Technologies. What do you think is common to these companies? They are all formed by ex-Tesla employees. Back in my college days, whenever there was a question which had a bunch of logos and you had to connect the companies, more often than not the answer would be the Paypal mafia. The PayPal mafia was a bunch of ex-employees who had left the company and gone on to form their own successful ventures. Today the same thing is happening in electric automobiles. There are many start-ups founded by former Tesla employees dealing with creating the next big thing in e-mobility. The connection of course between the two happenings is Elon Musk. I wonder if we can attribute this directly to him. Some people are great at developing and making leaders. Such a mammoth achievement twice can hardly be a coincidence. His leadership is hardly ever spoken about, given his outsized personality, but data suggests that he is surely doing something right
3. Italy is the behemoth that has never woken up. For years its rising debt and its lacklustre growth has plunged the area into economic hell. Italy’s south is one of the least prosperous regions in Europe and no one has ever shown signs of changing the narrative. But that is about to change. Mario Draghi is one of the most respected leaders in Europe. His work in the European Central Bank post the financial crisis of 2008 remains one of the biggest achievements of the ECB. As he takes over the post of Prime Minister, he has the unique distinction of being someone who commands the respect of all parties. But that is not all. With the EU as a whole having a big purse to drive growth post COVID, the environment he comes into is much more helpful once. For me, his arrival Is crucial in the chain of events that can lead to Italy’s revival. For the result, we will have to wait and see.
4. In a world, where everything around you is broken or in despair, finding any sort of inspiration can be a difficult task. But for Yusra Mardini, the journey from being in the war in Syria to reaching the Olympics is my favourite story of the year so far. Her experience of reaching Germany through the treacherous sea route and surviving in refugee camps is a story that can be taught everywhere. It is also a story of how so much happened in a short life span, from surviving a war to becoming a refugee to reach the Olympics. During this whole time there were so many players that came and went and in doing so created the story of Yusra Mardini.
5. In the last 5 years, the profit percentage of all tech giants including google, Facebook and Apple has fallen by 10% or more. Competition has intensified across and the relationship between the tech giants is not really friendly. The strange thing is no one has been able to eat into the others pie. So Google and Amazon still don’t make money from devices, Apple still still can’t get its users to use Apple maps. In areas like the cloud increasing competition is eroding margins. A new development is that the relationships are becoming even more frosty. The interesting part is that the number 2 and 3 in every industry actually increased their market share in the last 5 years. With so many events happening in the tech space from the need for regulation to the privacy debate, the next decade will be much more competitive for the tech giants than the previous decade. And you can be sure that the results will not be decided by the free will of its leaders.
Have fun reading !