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Journalist Kara Swisher on the State of Tech Giants and Small Businesses

kara swisher
Credit: Asa Mathat

How are delivery services going to shape the fate of small businesses?

Nowadays, more and more companies are changing their policies to adhere to social distancing. With large companies like Amazon and Walmart gaining consumers through added delivery options, how are small businesses going to fare? Kara Swisher, co-founder of the Recode Decode podcast talks with Roben Farzad about the effect the big tech industry could have on small businesses post pandemic. They also hit on the unprecedented reliance on broadband as students move to online classrooms and how Bill Gates went from a went from being Corporate Villain in Chief to the most well-known philanthropist who warned the world about an impending pandemic.

“When you're thinking about returning from the coronavirus, we've got to have ... the most robust way for citizens to communicate. You can just see it by this crisis that we need it for every citizen, not just for the wealthiest citizens.” - Kara Swisher

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Episode excerpt

The following excerpt was edited for clarity.

[33:07]

Roben Farzad: We’re on Facebook a lot during quarantine. We are on Netflix, bingeing it like never before in quarantine. You talk about Microsoft's cloud and Amazon's cloud. Buying on Amazon and how Amazon can even guarantee Prime delivery after two days. But this does bring up the problem of their hegemony. You say if power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, how can we best describe the kind of power big tech will wield when the coronavirus crisis is over? How about this, the tech giants could have all the power and absolutely none of the accountability, at least all the power that will truly matter. Talk to me about that.

Kara Swisher: Well, I talked about it. I wrote a column about it. I write about it all the time. I think what's happened is that there's a real culling of the herd among tech companies and other things. These companies have a lot of cash on hand and a lot of ability to weather the storm. When you have cash on hand and are able to do something, even in a downturn, you sort of agonize over but you could say, "ah, an opportunity." And so these big tech companies are in really great positions to take advantage of what's coming out of this as other companies fail. AMC is a good example, AMC is really going to be challenged. It has been challenging accelerating trends that were happening before, but now like look at all this great stuff available on the cheap. So these companies will get more and more powerful as they become more and more integral to our lives now. Everybody's used to delivery. This has been a great marketing event for Amazon, I hate to say it but it is, because everyone's now using it. I do and depend on it. Same thing with Walmart, they've never done better. They're not just selling food. We had Stephanie Ruhle from MSNBC on our show like look, Walmart's also selling surfboards. What about the local surfboard shop? They're out of business. These big businesses, who have been able to operate as essential services during this time are just making hay while everybody else is sort of at home shuttered, and businesses are shuttered. You just can see how small businesses just can't survive compared to the large ones.

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