Adam Ruins Tech

Dec 10 2018

In this episode, Adam downloads you on how the tech industry isn’t really as helpful as you think – or wants you to think. Here are his sources.


Amazon is so good at what they do, 60% of American households subscribe to Amazon Prime.

Shep Hyken. “Sixty-Four Percent of U.S. Households Have Amazon Prime.” Forbes, 17 Jun 2017.

“That gives them a HUGE database of customer behavior, and UNPRECEDENTED power to entice customers to buy more.

Lina M. Khan. “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.The Yale Law Journal 126.3 (2017).

“When you click ship, their unmatched network of artificial intelligence, data analysis, warehouses, airplanes, and drivers springs into action to get you your stuff as quickly as possible--sometimes in UNDER AN HOUR.

Lina M. Khan. “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.The Yale Law Journal 126.3 (2017).

“According to SLICE INTELLIGENCE, Americans spend almost half their online dollars on Amazon.

Eugene Kim. “More than half of online sales growth in the US came from Amazon last year.Business Insider, 2 Feb 2017.

“Amazon has so much power over the online market that unless youre already a huge, established company, you pretty much HAVE to go through them to reach customers.

Helen Schmid. “Should You Compete with Amazon or Sell on Amazon?Harvard Business Review, May 2016.

“And since Amazon holds all the power in their relationship, they can even take a cut of HALF their sales!

Angus Loten and Adam Janofsky. ”Sellers Need Amazon, but at What Cost?Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 2015.

“And if a seller is REALLY successful, sometimes Amazon doesnt just take a cut -- theyll release an AMAZON version of their product and start COMPETING with them!

Spencer Soper. “Got a Hot Seller on Amazon? Prepare for E-Tailer to Make One Too.Bloomberg, 20 Apr 2016.

“And since they own the platform, they have the power to promote their own products over everyone elses -- even if a smaller seller is offering BETTER prices!

Julia Angwin and Surya Mattu. “Amazon Says It Puts Customers First. But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn’t.ProPublica. 20 Sept 2016.

“ was so terrified Amazon’s ruthless sales tactics would put them out of business, they eventually caved and sold themselves to Amazon.”

Brad Stone. “The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store.Bloomberg, 10 Oct 2013.

“And once Amazon swallowed up, they stopped offering such deep diaper discounts.”

Laura Owen. “Amazon cuts the benefits again in Amazon Mom, its Prime program for parents.Gigaom, 29 Sep 2014.

“At first, Amazon’s book prices were CRAZY cheap. But now that they dominate the book market, theyve started jacking up prices on some titles.”

David Streitfeld. “As Competition Wanes, Amazon Cuts Back Discounts.The New York Times, 4 Jul 2013.

“Amazon electronically monitors its warehouse workersevery move. Theyll even FIRE workers if they dont make their ENORMOUS quotas.

Ceylan Yeginsu. “If Workers Slack Off, the Wristband Will Know. (And Amazon Has a Patent for It.)The New York Times, 1 Feb 2018.

“The average tenure for an Amazon worker is just 1 year.

Vivian Giang. “A New Report Ranks America's Biggest Companies Based On How Quickly Employees Jump Ship.Business Insider, 25 Jul 2013.

“And when Amazon comes to town, it's not just their workers who suffer. One analysis showed on average wages drop for ALL warehouse workers in the area--and can drop as much as 30%.

What Amazon does to wages.The Economist, 20 Jan 2018.

New Jersey – “Just $7 billion in tax breaks? Playing it safe, I see.

Keiko Morris and Mike Vilensky. “New Jersey Offers $7 Billion in Incentives to Lure Amazon to Newark.The Wall Street Journal, 16 Oct 2017.

Maryland – “Ah, $8.5 billion and a side of infrastructure. Oh la la!

Reid Wilson. “Maryland Approves Billions in Amazon Tax Incentives.The Hill, 4 Apr 2018.

“You would let ME keep Amazon Chicago employee payroll taxes, instead of spending it on things like roads and schools??

Leanna Garfield. “Chicago wants to give over $1 billion in taxes from workers at Amazon's new headquarters back to Amazon.Business Insider, 27 Nov 2017.

“And when you click to agree, you’re also agreeing that you don’t fully own your device. The physical HARDWARE is yours, but the software that makes it work still belongs to the company who made it.”

Jason Koebler. “Corporations Use End User License Agreements to Create a Parallel Legal System.Motherboard, 29 Mar 2017.

“Theres only one Apple store in all of Nebraska!

Olivia Solon. “A right to repair: why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple.The Guardian, 6 Mar 2017.

“For the past 2 years, Apple software updates disabled the touch screens of phones that had been repaired using generic parts, essentially locking people out of their phones!

Matthew Gault. “The New iOS Update Killed Touch Functionality on iPhone 8s Repaired with Aftermarket Screens.Motherboard, 9 Apr 2018.

“Your Keurig can force you to use KEURIGS special coffee pods.

Brian Barrett. “Keurig’s My K-cup Retreat Shows We Can Beat DRM.Wired, 8 May 2015.

“And HP printers can refuse to work with anything but HPs ink cartridges.

Zoe Kleinman. “HP printers start rejecting budget printer cartridges.BBC, 19 Sep 2016.

“If you use an e-reader, you dont even own your BOOKS anymore.

Mark King. "Amazon wipes customer's Kindle and deletes account with no explanation,” The Guardian, 22 Oct 2012.

“Sorry, gotta take back that copy of 1984.

Brad Stone. “Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle.” The New York Times, 17 Jul 2009.

“In one instance, a Case tractor sounded an alarm every 10 minutes, and the owner couldnt turn it off!

Olivia Solon. “A right to repair: why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple.The Guardian, 6 Mar 2017.

“But if you do anything to mess with the software, you could be hit with a huge fine, or even jail time!!

Cory Doctorow. ”America’s broken digital copyright law is about to be challenged in court.The Guardian, 21 Jul 2016.

“When farmers in Nebraska championed a right to repairlaw, Apple and other tech companies swooped in to KILL THE BILL!

Olivia Solon. “Under pressure from tech companies, ‘Fair Repair’ bill stalls in Nebraska.The Guardian, 11 Mar 2017.

“A few years ago, Volkswagen covered up their carsdeadly emissions levels by hiding it in software government regulators couldnt access.

Andrea Peterson and Brian Fung. “The tech behind how Volkswagen tricked emissions tests.The Washington Post, 22 Sep 2015.

“Before they were caught and forced to fix it, those killer fumes are estimated to have caused 59 premature deaths in the US alone.

Adam Vaughan. “VW emissions cheat estimated to cause 59 premature US deaths.The Guardian, 29 Oct 2015.

“In fact, the U.S. government invented the fundamental tech that became the internet.

Ben Tarnoff. “How the Internet Was Invented.The Guardian, 15 Jul 2016.

“We also gave a $4.5 million grant to the search engine that eventually became Google.

Robbert Dijkgraaf. “Curiosity-Driven Knowledge Is a Vital Form of Infrastructure.Scientific American, 1 Jun 2017.

“And a half a billion dollar government loan jumpstarted the release of Teslas first car.

Tesla gets loan approval from US Department of Energy.” Tesla. 20 Apr 2010.

“And almost everything that makes our smart phones smart was funded by our TAX DOLLARS.

Pierre Bienaimé. “This Chart Shows How The US Military Is Responsible For Almost All The Technology In Your iPhone,” Business Insider, 29 Oct 2014.

“Theyre infamous for funneling funds through places like the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Ireland to avoid the IRS.

David Cay Johnston. ”How Google and Apple Make Their Taxes Disappear.Newsweek, 12 Dec 2014.

“But per dollar of wealth created, Facebook hires one tenth of the employees hired by a traditional company like Proctor and Gamble.

Scott Galloway. “Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine.Esquire, 8 Feb 2018.

“At the top of the company, you have rich investors and white collar employees with full benefits. But at the bottom, theres over three million “driver partners” with no unemployment insurance, paid time off, or health insurance.

Joann Weiner. “The Hidden Costs of Being an Uber Driver.The Washington Post, 20 Feb 2015.

“As more white collar tech employees have moved into Silicon Valley over the last decade, home prices have skyrocketed -- which means homelessness in the Valley is skyrocketing, too.”

Jacqueline Lee. “Palo Alto sees 26 percent rise in homelessness, census says.The Mercury News, 13 Jul 2017.

Marisa Kendall. “Bay Area home prices: Three counties set new records.The Mercury News, 22 Mar 2018.

“Over the last 10 years, Americas 5 largest tech firms have flooded Washington with twice as much lobbying money as Wall Street.

Olivia Solon and Sabrina Siddiqui. “Forget Wall Street – Silicon Valley is the new political power in Washington.The Guardian, 3 Sep 2017.

“Tech’s biggest companies--Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple—are worth more than the GDP of France.

Scott Galloway. “Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine.Esquire, 8 Feb 2018.

“Google accounts for 90% of all online searches worldwide.

Jeff Desjardins. “How Google retains more than 90% of market share.Business Insider, 23 Apr 2018.

And its Android operating system runs 85% of all phones in the WORLD.

Smartphone OS.” International Data Corporation. 2017.

“At the end of 2017, Apple had almost $300 billion in cash, which at the time was DOUBLE the cash of  any other US company.

Matt Hunter and Anita Balakrishnan. “Apple's cash pile hits $285.1 billion, a record.CNBC, 1 Feb 2018.

Facebook ruthlessly buys out or copies its competitors, which means it now owns the 4 most popular apps in the world.

Scott Galloway. “Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine.Esquire, 8 Feb 2018.

“And on top of that, Facebook has created a data-gathering juggernaut that one-third of the world voluntarily lives under.

The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics – Updated April 2018.Zephoria, Jul 2018.

“Over 1 million online businesses use Amazons cloud services -- Netflix would CRASH without Amazon.

Alex Hern. “Amazon Web Services: the secret to the online retailer's future success.The Guardian, 2 Feb 2017.

“Google and Apples operating systems run on pretty much EVERY phone.

Smartphone OS.” International Data Corporation. 2017.


For More On This Topic

Our expert Scott Galloway’s book on the so-called “Big Four” of tech, and why we should cheer for them to be smaller.

This video delves into the strange story of how tractors became ground zero in the legal fight to control your tech.

The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato illustrates the degree to which major tech innovations have depended on public investment.