The Best Rivalries in Business
David: The Ides of March (named for the day on the Roman calendar that corresponds with the middle of the month) is infamously known as a day of betrayal, due in no small part to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The death of Caesar marked a turning point in Roman history, and is largely considered one of the events that set off the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.
While modern betrayals and rivalries often include much less murder, they are no less cunning, cut throat, or devious. After all, it’s competition that drives innovation. To celebrate the Ides of March, we’ve collected a few of the best books that detail some of the most brutal rivalries in the history of business.
The rise of smartphones and tablets has altered the computer industry forever. At the center of this change is a fierce rivalry between Apple and Google, two companies whose philosophies, leaders, and commercial acumen have steamrolled the remaining competition. In the age of Android and the iPad, these corporations are locked in a feud that will play out not just in the mobile marketplace but in the courts and on screens around the world.
Following the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console Wars — a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut that is Nintendo (and revolutionized the video game industry at the same time).
As the creators of Budweiser and Michelob beers, the Anheuser-Busch company is one of the wealthiest and most enduring family dynasties in the history of American commerce. Of course, they didn’t become so powerful without making a few (dozen) enemies. In Bitter Brew, you’ll learn the riveting and often scandalous saga of the rise and fall of the dysfunctional Busch family.
Secret Formula follows the real-life characters who turned a relic from the patent medicine era into a company worth $80 billion. Award-winning reporter Frederick Allen’s engaging account begins with Asa Candler, a 19th-century pharmacist in Atlanta who secured the rights to the original Coca-Cola formula.
(And, as a fun fact, I am the direct descendent of John S. Pemberton, the pharmacist who created and sold the original recipe to Candler. No, I am not rich, and for that I blame the rivalries surrounding Coca-Cola.)
In 1889, John D. Rockefeller was at the peak of his power. Having absolutely crushed all competition and gaining near-total domination of the market, even the U.S. government was wary of challenging the great “anaconda” of Standard Oil. It wasn’t until two unlikely businessmen teamed up to form Royal Dutch Shell that one of the greatest rivalries in business history finally caught fire.
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