No Mercy No Malice

Scott Galloway’s 7 Business Predictions for 2021

Why Airbnb, Robinhood, and Walmart will be the most important companies to watch this year

Scott Galloway
Marker
Published in
8 min readJan 5, 2021

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An illustration of a crystal ball with thick framed glasses over it.
Images courtesy of the author

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower tweeted that in 1957 (it was a speech, Ed). The value of a prediction is not accuracy (though it is better to be right than wrong), but the reasoning and conversation that the prediction catalyzes. Predictions can also be self-fulfilling prophecies, as the best way to predict the future is to make it… and predictions can make it (the future). After last year’s predictions, seven Fortune 100 CEOs came to me for advice. Or maybe they thought if I saw what great guys they were, I’d be less critical of them or their firm… but I digress.

We have been predicting/evangelizing/pimping big investments in recurring revenue businesses — what I call “rundles.” A great rundle (e.g., Amazon Prime) requires multiple product lines, robust tech infrastructure, and the stomach/capital to endure staggering losses in EBITDA and be recast as a subscription-based firm valued at a multiple of revenues. The path to a rundle is a useful lens through which to evaluate a firm’s product strategy, upgrade cycle, churn, pricing, value drivers, etc. I understand Apple, AT&T/CNN, Disney, Walmart, and other rundle-emergent companies better now that I’ve viewed them through that lens — and their leadership does as well.

Note: After reading the previous two paragraphs, my observation is that I leave 2020 as I entered it: desperate for other people’s affirmation and rabidly insecure. Anyway.

Predictions are more fun when you’re right (Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, WeWork implosion, and Quibi DOA). However, it’s likely more illuminating to revisit your misses (Tesla). How was I so spectacularly wrong on that firm? Likely because I ignored a trusted maxim: Never bet against a company with a great product. But on a deeper level, I had not appreciated the power of what my colleague Aswath Damodaran calls “story stocks” and the influence a good story can have on valuations.

Looking back at predictions is so useful (done rigorously, it’s called the “scientific method”) that we incorporate it into…

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Scott Galloway
Marker

Prof Marketing, NYU Stern • Host, CNN+ • Pivot, Prof G Podcasts • Bestselling author, The Four, The Algebra of Happiness, Post Corona • profgalloway.com