Two prominent billionaire investors engaged in a public debate over the impact of woke ideologies on a company’s financial performance during a face-off on X, formerly Twitter.
The conversation aligns with the backdrop of recent controversies involving major corporations, such as Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) and Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT), which have faced boycotts because of their public support for the LGBTQ+ community.
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The exchange kicked off when venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya shared a post featuring an article highlighting a noticeable trend of people relocating to Southern U.S. states. This triggered a swift retort from Mark Cuban, a vocal advocate for the argument that boycotts don’t significantly impact companies that embrace woke principles.
In his characteristic style, Palihapitiya declared on X, “Go woke, go broke” and cast doubt on whether the primary difference between two substantial regional populations — the South and the Northeast — could be solely attributed to ideological factors. He reinforced his viewpoint by citing a Bloomberg article that disclosed an influx of 2.2 million people to the Southeast in the past two years, resulting in a “$100 billion wealth migration.”
Cuban responded to the post exhibiting skepticism over Palihapitiya’s post. Cuban challenged Palihapitiya with a direct question: “Can you name one woke company that has gone broke?”
Palihapitiya retorted to Cuban’s challenge by sharing a link to a comprehensive list of 452 startups that encountered failure. While acknowledging that the list wasn’t exclusively comprised of woke companies, he intimated that some entries might align with the woke narrative.
Cuban, however, remained unconvinced by the link and expressed his dissatisfaction with the notion that startups could be taken as prime examples. He emphatically dismissed the relevance of startup failures by stating, “A list of STARTUPS failing is weak and you know it Chamath.”
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He contended, “Saying some failed because he ‘suspects’ they may be woke is ridiculous and he knows it.”
Palihapitiya countered Cuban’s stance with a list of companies that had filed for bankruptcy in 2022, hinting that similar outcomes might be found in other years.
Cuban took the discussion up a notch by sharing a comparative chart illustrating the performance of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) versus iHeartMedia Inc. (NASDAQ:IHRT). The data showed that Disney was up 2.4% year to date, whereas iHeartMedia had experienced a significant decline of 41.6% year to date. He seized upon the data-centric aspect of the argument, stating, “The cool thing about obvious is that there is always data. I’ll take your woke $DIS and compare it to a media company that is the home for most conservative media.”
Cuban also referenced the performance of Papa John’s International Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA), which he described as a conservative company. He emphasized his belief that the fate of these companies was not closely tied to their woke or conservative affiliations but rather attributed it to the performative nature of social media.
Continuing his passionate argument, Cuban elaborated on his perspective: “Personally, I don’t think what happened to any of these companies had anything to do with being Woke, or Partisan. Not even close. I think this about social media being so performative.”
Cuban then turned his attention to the controversy surrounding Bud Light, asserting that the brand hadn’t committed any wrongdoing. He views people like Kid Rock as opportunists who recognized a chance to stir up excitement. Cuban admired this as a brilliant branding moment and movement for Kid Rock.
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