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    Prof G Markets: Google’s Antitrust Trial, Birkenstock’s IPO, and Surge Pricing at the Pub

    enSeptember 18, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Collaboration and simplicity in actionAtlassian tools promote teamwork and efficiency, while Google, Birkenstock, and Tesla demonstrate the power of collaboration and simplicity in their respective industries.

      Collaboration and simplicity are key to achieving great things, whether it's for a small team or a large corporation. Atlassian software, such as Jira, Confluence, and Loom, helps teams work together effectively, allowing them to accomplish feats that would be impossible alone. Simplicity, on the other hand, is essential for businesses to operate efficiently and effectively, as demonstrated by Mercury's financial workflows. In the news, Google is facing an antitrust case, Birkenstock went public, and surge pricing was discussed at the pub. The market saw growth with the S&P 500, Bitcoin, and Tesla's stock, while the consumer price index showed inflation rising to 3.7%. ARM went public with a valuation of $1,000,000,000 and Tesla's stock saw a significant increase after a Morgan Stanley analyst's prediction of potential revenue. Apple unveiled new iPhone models and watches, but the market reaction was lackluster. Overall, the importance of collaboration, simplicity, and efficiency were recurring themes in this week's news.

    • UAW Strike Against Major Auto Companies and Tesla's New SupercomputerThe UAW launched a strategic strike against Ford, GM, and Stellantis, while Tesla's new supercomputer, Dojo, made headlines for its impressive processing power and potential to train AI models for full self-driving cars. Inflation remains a concern, but housing affordability and Arms' successful IPO were notable developments.

      The United Auto Workers (UAW) launched a strategic strike against Ford, GM, and Stellantis, targeting individual plants on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, Tesla's new supercomputer, Dojo, has been making headlines for its impressive processing power, potentially enough to train AI models for full self-driving cars and service other AI companies. This development has significantly increased Tesla's value in the market. Inflation continues to be a concern, with gas prices being a major contributor, but rents have seen a slight decrease from their peak earlier this year. Housing affordability remains a challenge for younger generations, with the average age of a homebuyer increasing significantly since 1980. Arms, a software company, had a successful IPO, raising capital in a market that was predicted to have renewed life. The UAW strike is expected to be settled, as the auto industry is making profits and the workers' requests for higher wages are reasonable. Ford and other companies continue to make profitable trucks, which are in high demand.

    • Leverage in NegotiationsHaving leverage leads to better outcomes in negotiations and avoiding costly mistakes. The writers' strike vs CEO compensation increase and Apple's shift towards services illustrate this.

      Having leverage is crucial in negotiations. The discussion highlighted the contrasting outcomes of the writers' strike and the CEOs' decision to increase compensation at three companies. The writers had no leverage as consumers did not feel the impact of the strike, and the studios were unwilling to meet their demands. Apple, on the other hand, faced potential challenges with its manufacturing in China due to the trade war, but its shift towards services has helped mitigate the impact of declining iPhone sales. The lesson here is that having leverage in negotiations can lead to better outcomes and avoid costly mistakes. The writers' union underestimated the situation and may come out of the strike deeply scarred. Similarly, Apple's success in services shows the importance of adapting to changing market conditions.

    • Impact of Antitrust Enforcement on Various StakeholdersAntitrust enforcement can lead to increased focus, higher growth rates, and more competition for talent, benefiting shareholders and employees. It also results in lower taxes, increased innovation, and more revenue for outside corporations and the economy. However, there can be unintended consequences like the loss of research institutions.

      Antitrust enforcement, as seen in the ongoing Google case, can have significant impacts on various stakeholders. For shareholders, breakups often lead to increased value due to the clarity of company focus and the potential for higher growth rates. Employees benefit from increased competition for talent, while the VC community gains more companies to fund. Outside corporations profit from lower taxes and increased innovation, and the economy as a whole may experience more revenue and profits. However, there can also be potential downsides, such as the loss of research institutions like Bell Labs in a breakup. Overall, the antitrust trial against Google highlights the complex interplay between competition, innovation, and economic growth.

    • Breaking up monopolistic tech companies could benefit society and the economyThe dismantling of tech monopolies could unlock innovation, foster competition, and positively impact various stakeholders, including the Commonwealth, employees, shareholders, and the venture capital community, while potentially limiting the power of founders and executives.

      The breakup of monopolistic tech companies like Google could lead to significant benefits for society, the economy, and various stakeholders. This includes the Commonwealth, which would no longer be reliant on monopolistic advertising platforms. The ecosystem as a whole would also unlock innovation, benefiting employees, shareholders, the venture capital community, and even the tax base. However, the founders and executives of these companies, who hold significant power and wealth, may be the only losers in such a scenario due to their desire to maintain control. These companies have amassed immense power through cheap capital and data, hindering competition and potentially limiting innovation. The antitrust scrutiny itself, rather than the remedy, could be the catalyst for change, sending a message to these companies to cease monopolistic practices and opening the door for further investigations and remedies.

    • Microsoft's past antitrust case led to changes for new companies, including GoogleThe antitrust trial against Google raises debates on the impact of monopolistic control of data on competition and consumer protection, with arguments for and against increased government oversight and the potential consequences for innovation and consumer experience.

      The antitrust case against Microsoft in the past led to a consent decree that changed how Microsoft treated new companies, ultimately allowing Google to grow and thrive. This history repeats itself as we consider the current antitrust trial against Google. The argument is that Google, due to its monopolistic control of data, has the power to stifle competition and create an unhealthy ecosystem. However, some argue that the unique nature of data as a commodity makes this situation different from past antitrust cases. Google's dominance results in a better product for consumers, with higher click-through rates and more effective advertising. While some argue for increased government oversight to ensure consumer protection and prevent potential abuses of power, others believe that the benefits of Google's scale outweigh any potential negatives. Ultimately, the debate continues on the effectiveness of antitrust regulations in this context and the potential impact on innovation and consumer experience.

    • Benefits of increased competition in tech marketsBreaking up tech giants could lead to more innovation, a broader tax base, and a more level playing field for new businesses.

      The debate over whether tech giants like Google or Alphabet should be broken up or not is a complex issue with various perspectives. Some argue that these companies have too much market power and are stifling competition, while others believe that they provide essential services and are worth preserving as monopolies. During a discussion, it was pointed out that the ecosystem as a whole, including consumers, startups, and governments, would likely benefit from increased competition in these markets. The argument was made that laws exist to prevent a tragedy of the commons and that breaking up these companies could lead to more innovation, a broader tax base, and a more level playing field for new businesses. However, others argue that these companies are essential utilities and that breaking them up could lead to inefficiencies and higher costs for consumers. Ultimately, the question of whether to break up these tech giants is a legal one that requires careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks.

    • Birkenstock Goes Public with a $5 Billion ValuationBirkenstock, a footwear brand with strong consumer loyalty and direct-to-consumer business, is going public with impressive growth and a $5 billion valuation. However, investor expectations and brand protection are key concerns.

      Birkenstock, a footwear brand majority owned by private equity firm LCatterton, is going public with a valuation of approximately $5 billion. The IPO market is showing signs of revival, with year-on-year IPOs on the rise. Birkenstock's global brand, strong consumer loyalty, and direct-to-consumer business have contributed to impressive growth, with revenues increasing 29% year on year and a net income margin of 15%. However, as a fashion company with a unique product, the brand is its primary moat. Comparisons to other companies, such as Allbirds, which have underperformed post-IPO, raise questions about investor expectations and the importance of brand protection and revenue diversification. Despite these challenges, Birkenstock's iconic status and enduring appeal set it apart from its competitors.

    • Birkenstock's Global Dominance and UK Pub Industry's Surge PricingBirkenstock's unique blend of hippie and fashionable elements has made it a globally recognized brand in open-air sandals, with strong supply chain capabilities and international growth opportunities. The UK pub industry experiments with surge pricing to remain competitive amidst inflation and declining numbers of pubs.

      Birkenstock is a globally recognized and dominant brand in the open-air sandals category, with strong supply chain capabilities and universal appeal across various demographics. The company's unique blend of hippie and fashionable elements has led to its iconic status, and its relatively low presence in Asia presents significant international growth opportunities. On the other hand, the UK pub industry is experimenting with surge pricing as a way to adapt to inflation and declining numbers of pubs. This strategy, which involves charging different prices based on the time of day or week, has been successful in other industries and could help struggling pubs remain competitive. Overall, Birkenstock's strong brand and international growth potential make it an attractive investment opportunity, while the UK pub industry's adoption of surge pricing is an interesting response to economic challenges.

    • Surge pricing in industries with high supply and demand variabilitySurge pricing can increase overall welfare but requires industry-specific considerations and consumer sensitivity

      Surge pricing, while controversial and unpopular from a consumer perspective, can lead to overall increased welfare in industries with high supply and demand variability, such as ride sharing. However, it's crucial to consider the unique characteristics of each industry and whether the same principles can be applied effectively. For instance, the pub industry may not be as susceptible to surge pricing due to its cultural significance and less time-sensitive nature. Additionally, companies must be mindful of the potential psychological effects of implementing surge pricing and the potential backlash from consumers. Despite the risks, variable pricing and yield dynamics are common practices in various industries, including hospitality and airlines, and companies can adapt and adjust accordingly if needed. Finally, the prediction made last year about TikTok's ownership change remains to be seen, with Microsoft as a potential buyer to help distance the company from Chinese influence.

    • Federal government bans TikTok for employees, potential regulation aheadThe federal government's ban on TikTok for employees could lead to broader restrictions and regulation of the social media app due to concerns over monopoly abuse and data security. The Federal Reserve is predicted to pause interest rate hikes this month but may still raise them later in the year. Birkenstock is expected to see a surge in popularity.

      The federal government's ban on TikTok for its employees marks a significant step towards potential regulation of the social media app due to concerns over monopoly abuse and data security. This action by the largest employer in the nation sets a precedent and could be the beginning of broader restrictions. In economic news, the Federal Reserve is expected to pause interest rate hikes this month, but another hike may still occur later in the year. Additionally, Birkenstock, known for its popular footwear, is predicted to experience a surge in popularity. Tune in to Office Hours on Wednesday for further insights. This episode was produced by Claire Miller and engineered by Benjamin Spencer, with executive producers Jason Stavrid and Catherine Dillon, research lead Neil Silverio, and technical director Drew Burrows. Stay tuned to Prop Markets from the Vox Media Podcast Network for more market analysis every Monday.

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    For show notes and past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show, please visit tim.blog/podcast.

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    Keziah Robinson, of Cassia Partners is a business strategist and coach with over 15 years of experience working with leaders, business owners and founders across multiple industries. Keziah is passionate about leveraging capitalism as a force for good. She blends a strong background in finance with design thinking, behavioral science and an unwavering belief in the power and potential of human beings.

    The Small Business Connections Podcast is hosted by Ann Brennan, owner of ASMM Digital Marketing. The podcast was created as a means of helping her clients build a community around their brands. Since its inception, the podcast has grown to include guests from around the world. To be on the show, please message Ann directly through LinkedIn.

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