Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook (anti) Trust Cannabis

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Why today's antitrust hearing featuring the fab four (Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple) has everything to do with trusting in the growth of the global cannabis industry.

 

Why today's antitrust hearing featuring the fab four (Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple) has everything to do with trusting in the growth of the global cannabis industry.

Curious about the future of cannabis? Here’s a glimpse into how tech is shaping the emerging global cannabis industry and how today's hearing will catapult its growth.

Bezos is one of four tech CEOs set to appear in Wednesday’s hearing, along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet. The agenda for today's hearing is about the trust in antitrust or lack thereof. Referring to a group of businesses that team up or form a monopoly in order to dictate pricing in a particular market. Antitrust laws exist to promote competition among sellers, limit monopolies and give consumers more options.

Are we really brave enough to think that the best country on this great green earth to start a business in is going to stand in the way of its own progress? Bezos will tell the House Antitrust Subcommittee that Amazon now employs a million people and that it built an online marketplace that allows third-party sellers -- independent “entrepreneurs” -- to make more than $100,000 a year. He acknowledges that Amazon is “a large company” but that its sprawling scale has created more than $1 trillion of wealth for its shareholders. 

Jeff and the Amazon team will argue that they will continue to contribute to domestic wealth creation by leveraging new revenue initiatives. 

A major opportunity he is eyeballing is the customer experience in global cannabis. Today the market (regulated and illicit) is estimated to be $344 billion USD. The top five regional markets are:

  • Asia ($132.9 billion)
  • North America ($85.6 billion)
  • Europe ($68.5 billion)
  • Africa ($37.3 billion)

The less taboo recreational cannabis space will continue to grow an additional US$130 billion over a decade from now as the wave legalization sweeps the U.S., Europe and Latin America, according to a report by New York-based investment bank Jefferies Group LLC, which initiated coverage of several companies in the space on Monday. The big reason why cannabis is surging is because of the trust in its users. Today, because of Bezos, Zuckerberg and jobs the people can be heard. Governments can meet demand. As public opinion changes - so will that of governments. The people are speaking and tech is listening.

Because of tech the world is a global economy. Successful economy is about customer satisfaction. Supply meeting demand. The companies competing for that demand are separated by wins and losses in the customers experience column. 

David Hiller of Vice wrote a very thorough piece on global legalization in late 2019. Here is how the world will look as it fights for the new cannabis normal. Mexico to legalize in 2019; Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile in 2025; Venezuela in 2029.New Zealand to legalize in 2020, and Australia in 2023.USA to legalize in 2023. Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal to legalize in 2023; Italy in 2024; Holland and Germany in 2025; France in 2026; UK in 2027; Norway in 2029.Jamaica, Cuba, and Barbados to legalize in 2026.South Africa to legalize in 2026; Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho in 2027.Thailand to legalize in 2029; India in 2030; North Korea never.

The world is asking for cannabis and tech is being trusted to do what they do. Deliver on customer expectation and demand.

Tim Cook says that Apple is focused on making the best products, not necessarily the most, and that its focus is always on the customer. Cook points to one saying by co-founder Steve Jobs: “We only make things that we would recommend to our family and friends.”

At the end of today there is only one trajectory. Congress will continue to let Apple make the best products to search for it on Google while Amazon delivers it and Facebook reviews it. This is a technological supply chain built on delivering value. This pipe line however needs to be filled. Cannabis and all of its derivatives. Whether it is medical CBD or recreational represents a huge opportunity for the attendees of today's hearing.

To give some perspective the global beef market cap is 320 Billion. An industry that has seen its fair share of innovation, R&D and progress. Imagine what the cannabis industry will look like when the tech giants start to really figure out that there is real growth there. Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market in 2017 for 13 Billion in an attempt to fill the pipe line with more commodity items like perishable food. There are inherent risks tied to this. The Cost of Goods Sold is very high and margins are very low. But the pipe has to be filled. The show must go on. Cannabis is nonperishable, compact, easy to ship, in demand and has very high margins. It is just a matter of time before the pipeline is flowing with green.

The growth culture of Amazon isn't a component of a company's strategy, it is the company's strategy. Growth is a framework that needs to drive all operational tasks, projects and initiatives of any company. The DNA of the company needs to be growth. Opportunities for growth are endless and should always be seized. Amazon remains successful and entrepreneurial because of its ‘Day One” philosophy.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." – John F. Kennedy

The cannabis industry has been at the center of non-conformity and our tech giants will not be found guilty of standing by and watching it grow. 

When a product or service is illegal, innovation is a tricky process to measure. For most places, this has been the state of the cannabis industry for decades.

But now that the laws of prohibition are tumbling down, we’re seeing new spaces open up for people to develop technologies that are helping more people participate in the cannabis industry and that are shaping its future in exciting ways.

The cannabis industry is a brand-new frontier of opportunity for many, but we would be remiss to ignore the pain and social injustice of its legacy.

The industry is swiftly constructing itself around a plant that has been banned, stigmatized, and demonized for more than 80 years. And in the United States at least, no one seems to have a good solution for the fact that in recent years, 820,000 marijuana arrests have been estimated per year, and 50,000 of those have been estimated to lead to felony convictions. This means that while tech has brought on an exciting field of innovation, discoveries, and progress, it’s important to take a critical look at who this new industry-darling is benefiting and rewarding following the waves of legalization, and who it continues to penalize

Regardless, technology remains the best lever for growth in transforming how we relate to cannabis as a society, and what we’re seeing is changing everything from how the product is grown to how it’s being manufactured, purchased, delivered, customized—and, of course, consumed.

The tenor of Zuckerberg's defense at today's hearing will resonate by the voice of the millions of users around the world who have come to trust in his technology. “Facebook is part of an industry that has changed the world,” he says in his introduction to congress. “I’m proud that we stand for American values like giving every person a voice and expanding access to opportunity.”

With a combined market cap of well over 5 Trillion how much opportunity is left for these four tech giants? Do we believe they want to grow? Carve out more market share? Innovate? Essentially compete to provide for consumers? The answer to these questions is easy. It is a hard YES. But, where will this opportunity as Zuck describes it come from? Cannabis? Another hard YES. The people around the world are speaking. Expect innovators to innovate. Watch Mark and his competitors compete for the new revenue cannabis is about to provide.

Sundar Pichai (CEO, Alphabet) claims that consumers have benefited from lower ad prices. “For example, competition in ads — from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast and others — has helped lower online advertising costs by 40% over the last 10 years, with these savings passed down to consumers through lower prices.”

In Canada, where it is fully legal, cannabis companies cannot advertise directly on Sundar’s platform. The Canadian Cannabis Act includes a number of prohibitions relating to the promotion of cannabis, cannabis accessories and services related to cannabis, as well as prohibitions relating to the sale of products with attributes, functions, labels and packages. 

The internet stands directly in the face of such obvious prohibitions. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The rise in cannabis’ popularity and its contribution to future economic growth and bettering people's lives is because the people have told the government that they want to trust in tech companies to deliver to them what they want, how they want it and at what price. Advertising is the foundation of healthy competition. 

Technological innovators like www.tolktalk.com have already found innovative ways to bridge the advertisinggap by creating a very simple and approachable way for cannabis companies to find their customers. tolktalk is a community where consumers can review, learn and share their experiences facing a back end CX solution for business to manage feedback and take control of their online reputation. Banning advertising in Canada just forces more innovation and ultimately more trust. Because of our big tech companies there is more trust because there is more information. Information allows for people to make better decisions. There is no such thing as too much information.

Customer acquisition is the first step in retaining customers and turning them into brand advocates. No matter how great your customer experience is or how engaged your current customers are, you can never stop marketing to new customers. After all, in order to grow, you need to continue adding new customers to your brand community.

On July 29th, lawmakers are set to face the chief executives of the tech industry’s four most powerful players: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Since last June, House lawmakers have been engaged in a sweeping investigation into the tech sector, focusing on whether some of the most notable names in the industry have grown too big and powerful. “ Big and Powerful” seems to describe what capitalism stands for. What many strive to be in one fashion or another. The cannabis industry will stand to benefit from any outcome of today's hearings. Customers around the world are expecting it. Apple will make it, Google find it, Amazon deliver it and FB review it. We can trust this!

 

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