Strategy Forum / Panelist

Barry Nalebuff

Yale School of Management

Yale University

Barry Nalebuff is an expert on game theory and has written extensively on its application to business strategy. A graduate of MIT, a Rhodes Scholar, and Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, Nalebuff earned his doctorate at Oxford University. In addition to his academic work, he is the cofounder of Honest Tea, Kombrewcha, and Maker Oats.

Voting History

Statement Response
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Disagree “In businesses where being close to other firms matters, this remains true. Unless employees want to relocate from cities, migration won’t happen. Larger forces seem to be leading to higher density.”
In the wake of recent climate-related disasters and related events, such as the bankruptcy of PG&E, corporations are now planning for the increased operational risks and potential liabilities caused by climate change. Agree “Some companies are doing this type of planning, while others are not.”
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Agree “Some of the platforms are becoming an essential facility. Others are not doing enough to prevent fraudulent sales on their sites. And some are denying any responsibility for malicious content on their sites.”
U.S. regulations have been rolled back in a number of areas, including emissions standards and clean water. Companies will decide to voluntarily adhere to rules that closely resemble the original standards. Strongly disagree “If firms didn't want to roll back standards, they wouldn’t have hired lobbyists to get the standards weakened.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Neither agree nor disagree “I think we will see sustainable private commercial activities in space, but [I] doubt they will be profitable — even though they may have a large market cap. Remember that it took Amazon nine years after being founded [and seven years since going public] before it made a profit.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Agree “But how much of an advantage? How much did Minitel help the French in the long run? And given potential for spyware via Chinese hardware, being a second-mover might be a better position in the long run. One big gain to 5G seems to be competition to cable providers. Not sure how much that makes a difference to overall economy.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Neither agree nor disagree “If I could predict volatility, I could make a lot of money buying or selling options on the VIX.”
China is no longer the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. Agree “I’m not sure it was ever the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. And, of course, it depends quite a bit on your industry. It would have been a great growth opportunity for Google absent censorship. It remains a good growth opportunity for Apple. Is it the most attractive growth opportunity for GM? Probably not.”
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Disagree
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Strongly disagree “Given the public-good nature of the problem, it is folly to think that industry self-regulation will solve the problem any more than self-regulation helped mitigate fallout from smoking. Indeed, the oil-extraction industry (much like the tobacco industry) has been engaged in the strategy of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to deny that a problem even exists.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Agree “Sure. But the question is how many others? And how fast? And what will they take back with the other hand as they raise wages?”
Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause US firms to to shift more operations overseas. Agree “Less skilled immigration will make it harder to hire skilled workers in the U.S., which leads to more being hired outside the U.S. That might be done by non-U.S. firms who end up losing out. Take out ‘U.S.,’ and the answer is clear.”
Uber has to develop self-driving cars in the next 10 years in order to remain viable. Agree “Not sure the question is quite right. I believe quite strongly that self-driving cars are essential to Uber’s success. But if Toyota develops them in partnership with Uber that could work fine for Uber.”
A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers. Agree “Trade wars both raise prices and create uncertainty. The uncertainty is often worse than higher prices. (This is why putting a sunset clause into the trade deal with Canada was a clear poison pill.) ”
Concern over consumer privacy will fundamentally limit businesses’ ability to use big data. Disagree