America was based on the notion of competition. As a culture, we are getting away from it. Everything is pre-planned. When I used to do television, often a producer would call me up to ask me questions before I went on just to make sure nothing came up. The segment became canned and I don’t think anything much has changed.
Companies try to crush competition using regulation or assimilation. It doesn’t matter which industry it is, the big guys are cozy with the Washington guys. The first strategic move is to ignore innovation and hope it goes away. The second is to try and compete with what you have, usually by lowering prices. The third is to regulate it. The fourth, assimilate it and put it out of existence.
One of the things that Peter Thiel says in his book “Zero to One” is to try and form a monopoly. That should be the goal of any company. When I was at Chicago Booth, we talked a lot about competition. When I was at CME, we were insanely competitive. As an exchange, we were competitive too. We were especially competitive with the CBOT who later was bought by CME. The competition made us all better.
Defining competitive boundaries is hard. It all depends on how broad a brush stroke you use. Some people might view Amazon as competing with every B2C company on the planet.
What’s funny to me is that people don’t see government when they look at competition. They see government as some sort of impartial arbiter. But, the facts get in the way of the perception. Government does affect and does compete with private industry. In many cases, the competitive playing field is deliberately skewed toward the government. Education is one industry that I can think of that is an example of that.
In a society where everyone gets a trophy, we have stopped teaching everyone about competition.
Entrepreneurship is hyper-competitive. Anyone that gets to the top of their field has a competitive streak. The will to win inside them is strong no matter if they are playing dominoes building companies or investing in companies.