The Power Hierarchy

1. Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Because that’s where the eyeballs are. Facebook far eclipses television and radio, it’s not only where you go to connect, it’s where you go to be informed. In an era of chaos, he who imparts order triumphs. Facebook killed MySpace because it was organized, there were rules. People say they prefer Android to iOS, Windows to MacOS, but those are the vocal minority. Give people too much choice and they become overwhelmed. As they are in the music business, with a plethora of playlists. You don’t want to go to a bunch of sites to get your news, it’s all there on Facebook, it won.

2. The New York Times

Someone has to report the news. But the Grey Lady adhered too long to that old saw that content is king. No, distribution is king. Trips to the “Times” site keep going down, because readers keep getting the “Times” stories elsewhere, never mind other outlets rewriting the paper’s content and posting it to their own advantage. The “Times” has boots on the ground. It’s just not sure which war it’s fighting.

3. Jeff Bezos

It’s not only Amazon, it’s the “Washington Post.” Not only is Jeff selling us all our stuff, he’s made a huge move into content. And he’s based his complete enterprise on the opposite of entertainment…it’s all about credibility, it’s all about trust, there’s no smoke and mirrors, no bait and switch, you can return items and oftentimes when you don’t want something Amazon just lets you keep it. You can find cheaper prices elsewhere, but you won’t go. As for the WaPo, Bezos took a declining asset and revitalized it, spent money and enhanced web traffic. Oftentimes dying enterprises just need new eyes. The news media has been cutting back for over a decade, thinking that balancing the books was the most important thing. Just like Philippe Dauman thought momentary stock price was everything. You protect the crown jewels, you don’t axe them. Selling a piece of Paramount is like denying your child a college education because you don’t want to go into hock paying for it, not looking at the long term. Funny how the techies look long term.

4. The Public

Never has the individual had this much power. No, I’m not talking about YouTube stars, I’m not talking about the self-promoting nitwits using new communication tools to try and establish a brand, I’m talking about you and me. Not only do we reach more people, oftentimes it’s the ONLY way to reach people, via word of mouth. Advertising is skipped or ignored. Media is seen as hype. You move mountains by infecting individuals and having them spread the word. Whether it be a new app or a new act. It’s a collective force that is gigantic.

5. Beyonce

Not Taylor Swift, because Twizzle Stick is just selling girl power, Beyonce’s spread her message far beyond that. And she’s got fans and media coverage… Sure, there are more poignant acts. But impact is based on attention, and right now no one has got as much as Beyonce. She’s got fans, who listen to what she has to say. She could go political, pro-Hillary, anti-Trump, and she could sway the election. But she grew up in a different era wherein if you alienate one customer you’re doing it wrong. Steve Jobs knew that alienation was power. When you stand for something and double-down on it people are drawn to you, especially in today’s crazy days.

6. Netflix

Because it’s totally today. It’s an on demand service for a very low price. Sure, you can subscribe to HBO Go or Showtime On Demand, but they each cost more than a month of Netflix! People hate commercials, they’ll pay for quality, and once they pay, they indulge. Not only does Netflix have a ton of content, it’s a paragon of creativity on new projects, it’s the opposite of network, there are no notes, only a blank check, because the company realizes creators do best when they’re allowed to follow their muse to excellence. Remember when people bitched that Netflix went from DVDs by mail to streaming..? True power players are always ahead of the game, they can see the future, and have the confidence to make big bets. He who is living in the present is lost in the future. Can you hear me radio?


1. Apple

It’s about software, not hardware, it’s about eyeballs, not eking more from the same posse. The device is a commodity. And upgrade cycles have slowed. Apple could have been the new WeChat, but it refuses to open up iMessage in order to monetize it. Apple may be the world’s most valuable company, but it’s verging on becoming moribund. Facebook speaks to everybody, Apple can’t even get anybody to use Connect.

2. Google

Because we don’t search that way on our mobiles, and mobile is only going to become more powerful, it’s king. And, Facebook does better in online advertising.

3. Snapchat and Twitter

They’ve both got the same problem, tons of buzz but not enough users. People have checked out Twitter and have abandoned it and great swaths of the public consider Snapchat too difficult to use. Don’t confuse the noise with the footprint. Just because Snapchat gets all the ink…remember when Twitter got all the ink? Twitter is a feature, the company needs to be sold and baked into something bigger.

4. Samsung

See Apple above. It’s about software, not hardware.


We’re overpaying for that which we do not use. A company built for an old model, the cable bundle, it can only go down. As for its crown jewel, the NFL…as long as people keep dying from CTE, the sport is time-stamped, just like human-piloted cars. Within two decades, probably more like ten or fifteen years, no one will drive their own car and then they won’t even own a car, not only will vehicles drive themselves, you’ll call them up on demand, just like you do a show on Netflix. Incomprehensible? Then you cannot foresee the death of the NFL.


1. Les Moonves

He could end up in control of Viacom, just you wait. Because not only does he know how to garner and keep eyeballs, he makes money doing it. Power is not about the enterprise but the individual. You may hate Les, but he’s made in the same mold as his boss Sumner. Look to he or she who created the company, or took it from zero to hero. And give them the reins and let them keep them.

2. Music

Something only grows when it’s ahead of the public, when it pushes the envelope. What are the music breakthroughs, festivals? Something that hearkens back to Woodstock, just with better food, more toilets and a higher ticket price? We need less choice, via anointing of a few hits acts, and more bleeding edge. Furthermore, internal distribution wars are only confusing the public. Which service should one subscribe to, what do I need? Damned if most people know. And Apple Music jumped the shark when Trent Reznor trashed YouTube. Sissies cry and complain about the rules. Winners MAKE THE RULES!

3. Finance

Dodd-Frank has already reined in Wall Street, and that’s a good thing. The public has turned against the financiers and once you’re the enemy of the people, you’re in trouble. If you’re picking a career, this is not it. Young people believe in the altruistic who build, today’s finance is anything but.


Visit the archive:


If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted Under