Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Those are the THE FOUR examined by author Scott Galloway in his first book, out early October. Having listened to an advance review copy, I was astonished by some of the material not covered in earlier tech and marketing related books such as Future Shock, Rise of the Robots, Wonderland, and Brandwashed. Galloway is a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and has served on the boards of Eddie Bauer, The New York Times Company, Gateway Computer, and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where he teaches Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing. He is the founder of several firms including L2, Red Envelope, and Prophet. The takeaway quote from his new book: “It has never been easier to become a billionaire, and never harder to become a millionaire.” What he means is that domination in markets has become an endgame in which only those few giant corporations that utilize data mining and artificial intelligence can gobble market share, and end up controlling not only how people make their purchases, but what they are exposed to, and how they perceive the world (think.) This goes beyond what Wal Mart has done, in going to rural America with big box stores and putting mom and pop shops out of business by undercutting their prices. This is spying and influencing on a subliminal level, and then utilizing influencers in sports and entertainment and politics. Product placement is old news, as in the movie Mission to Mars when a Coke saves the crew by finding a leak in the hull. Today it is all about controlling the entire experience of living, making you rely on the brand to service your every need. Facebook can hear every sound in your room when you’re on their site. They may know more about you than you do. They cooperate with the FBI, and while this sounds like a good thing, they also sell your data to third parties, who may then be hacked. Amazon began with books, and now sells electronics, food delivery, and soon cars. Jeff Bezos, he says, will be the first Trillionaire, and his vision of the future is robots replacing humans everywhere. (This was also my plot in The World’s First Trillionaire, a scifi satire at Amazon.) Better get that robotics degree or high tech trade license! Standing in line at AGT is a futile gambit in a winner-take-all culture in which the judges make more per show than the ultimate “winner” gets. Apple has a billion credit cards in their system, and are paranoid about security and secrecy. At their product launches the stunning images are offset by a CEO and tech guy who come out dressed in jeans and untucked shirts like rappers, the message being “we’re just like you. We’re cool.” Then they get into their new red Ferraris. Google can punish companies by demoting them in their search results. “Page two is like being dropped off the Earth,” says Galloway. Shareholder value can plummet overnight. Cooperate or else. “In the future,” the author says, “one percent will be lords, and the ninety-nine percent will be serfs.” In many ways, we are there already. A must read for anyone wanting to survive in an age when fitness must be mental, and willingness to change, emotional maturity, empathy, and knowledge are the four keys to success.