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The conglomerate is dead, but the tech giant is a training conglomerate




The conglomerate is dead. Will Big Tech receive notes?

Consider these recent developments:

GE is split into three public companies. Johnson & Johnson separates consumer goods from the medical device and pharmaceutical businesses. Toshiba is divided into three independent companies.

You can also throw some other examples, such as AT & T being separated from the media business.

The rationale for these conglomerate collapses is very simple. These giants became big, unwieldy, and heavy. The split allows the descendants of these companies to focus more and achieve better performance. As growth progresses, so does the rationale for the conglomerate. The conglomerate debate-the idea that magical management can be done in any business-disappears.

In a recent interview, Ray One, author of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” said the conglomerate playbook was flawed. But conglomerates can compete. They need to form joint ventures, build ecosystems and attract investors. Consider a deal between Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum.

“Like existing companies, we need more joint ventures to complete our portfolio of innovation startups in these industries,” Wang explains. “That’s how they succeed. Legacy players must be portfolio holding companies.”

The big question here is when the tech giant will become a legacy player. Big technology is busy building quasi-conglomerates and can work because growth is there. But gravity still exists, and there is no doubt that Big Tech will someday split. Think of Hewlett Packard as being split into HP and HPE.

Consider the next tech giant.

Amazon. The company is best known for its e-commerce business, but cloud giant Amazon Web Services is making a profit. At some point, shareholders and activists will wonder why cloud units are subsidizing retailers. Amazon is also expanding into advertising. It can be argued that these businesses are loosely related (until the music stops). Microsoft. Microsoft is a huge enterprise software company, despite being obsessed with being cool. Microsoft is about productivity. However, Xbox isn’t about productivity. Will the Xbox work better on its own? Apple. Apple, where everything is equal, is the most focused. Apple aims to blend software, hardware, and experience. From there, Apple is trying to lock you into the service and its ecosystem. This plan only matters when Apple does something silly, such as launching an Apple Car and becoming an automaker. Google / Alphabet. Google has become a semi-conglomerate, but has set up a structure that allows big bets through the alphabet structure. Google continues to focus, but it can be argued that the Google cloud could eventually become a search giant version of AWS. Alphabet makes big bets and probably spins off independent companies. Meta. The company, formerly known as Facebook, has built a conglomerate focused on getting your time and attention. In its composition, Metaverse is consistent with Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. But don’t be surprised if someone starts asking if you want Oculus to be part of Meta or another entity.

Today, these giants are conglomerates who train with a relatively strong belief in magical management and duopoly. Fast-forwarding for 10 or 2 years can be a farewell story.

ZDNET Monday morning opener

Monday’s Morning Opener is a week-long opening salvo in the tech space. As we operate a global site, this editorial will be published Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia. This is 6 pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday in the United States. Members write articles for ZDNet’s Global Editorial Board, which consists of lead editors from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

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