It’s been almost six months since I moved to New York City from Tokyo. Strolling around Manhattan, I pass by people from all walks of life, from businessmen to tourists to street vendors. Many are clutching smartphones in their hands. Texting or talking on the phone while walking appears much more widespread in Soho than in Shibuya.
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, GAFA, have been leading the American economy since the 2008 financial crisis. These giants, with the exception of Apple, were all founded within the last 20 to 25 years.
When GAFA companies see startups with great potential, they snatch them up with massive amounts of money. When acquisitions fail, the behemoths just look for another company to prey on. These practices have resulted in fewer listed companies in the US, as acquisitions are encouraging smaller rivals to get cash quickly rather than aim for IPOs.
GAFA companies are no longer just innovators. They are also powerful investors, and platforms with massive amounts of user’s personal data. No one can thrive outside of their “ecosystems.” GAFA have made our lives far more comfortable, but they also have access to our most personal information.
Will they remain our saviors? A question to contemplate as you watch people passing by you on the streets, their smartphones in hand.