As you may know, I spent several days this week in California at the Code Conference, a gathering sponsored by Vox Media and hosted by journalist Kara Swisher, where tech and business leaders engage in frank talk about every issue under the sun. Speakers included CEOs like Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and Jason Kilar of WarnerMedia. The Stay Tuned podcast this week features my conversation with SEC Chair Gary Gensler at the conference.
Among the speakers was Scott Galloway, professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and Kara’s co-host on the Pivot podcast. His presentation is the inspiration for this week’s note. In typically entertaining and blunt fashion, Scott sped through scores of PowerPoint slides to argue, among other things, that we tend to misapprehend the importance of trends. Specifically, there are business and other phenomena that we either overhype or underhype. Rarely do we get it right. After citing to his own failed past predictions, Scott offered specific examples from both categories. In the overhyped category, according to the Professor, is billionaire space travel. On the other hand, space hauling — taking satellites into space, rather than people — is set to explode and yet is underhyped. Self-driving cars, he said, are overhyped, as predictions about how many such vehicles would be on the road by now have fallen woefully short. Public university brands, like the University of California, are set to boom but are underhyped at the moment.
All of this got me thinking about additional examples in the political sphere. For example, I believe, respectfully, that Beto O’Rourke running for governor of Texas is overhyped, as much as one might want him to win. On the other hand, there is a longshot political possibility that is rarely mentioned, which is frightening but also underhyped. Dare I say it without causing you to laugh at the absurdity? No, it’s not the possibility that Donald Trump returns to the White House in 2025, though that is certainly possible. No, I’m talking about the possibility that Trump becomes Speaker of the House in January 2023.