brady bytedance

TikTok Without ByteDance Is Like Belichick Without Brady

They say that the NFL is the ultimate copycat league. No doubt that’s true. What’s successful is invariably imitated.

One of the most frequent ways in which copycatting reveals itself can be found in the inevitable hiring away of assistant coaches from winning teams. The assumption behind the hiring is that assistants will bring with them the winning ways of the head coach from the previous organization.

Except that it doesn’t always work out. Most often it doesn’t. Bill Belichick won six Super Bowl rings as a head coach, but his former assistants haven’t been able to transport the magic elsewhere. Think Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and Josh McDaniel among others.

Belichick’s former assistants without him rate mention with regard to TikTok. American politicians are shamefully forcing a sale that would separate it from its ByteDance owners. On its face, the forced sale amounts to expropriation of the kind that takes place in backwards, impoverished, thoroughly corrupt countries. How does one get a remotely fair price on a sale that is being forced by paranoid, protectionist politicians?

From there, think about the sale itself. And in thinking about it, stop and think about how portable the so-called “Patriot Way” has been. Think Crennel, Mangini and McDaniel again. They brought with them the system, but they couldn’t re-create it. Not even close.

After which, stop and think about Belichick and the Patriot Way without Tom Brady. Belichick won six Super Bowl rings with Brady at quarterback, but was rather pedestrian without Brady under center. As for the former Patriots quarterback, most are aware that he won his seventh Super Bowl in his first season after departing New England.

It’s all a crucial reminder that people matter. Which is almost a waste of words so obvious is it. It’s something to keep in mind given the blithe assurances made by proponents of a TikTok sale. Even the normally freedom and free market-focused Wall Street Journal’s editorial page alluded to the forced sale being no big deal, that it wouldn’t really amount to a “ban” since TikTok only has to separate itself from its creators…The bet here is that the Journal’s editorial board could be convinced to rethink its blasé stance.

Indeed, how would the Patriots have done if owner Robert Kraft had been forced to separate from Belichick after two Super Bowls? Would Brady have won four more with Crennel, Mangini, or McDaniel? Would Belichick have six rings if Brady’s 2008 knee injury had been career-ending? Thinking about Kraft, how would the Patriots have done if James Orthwein had never sold the team in the first place?

Back to TikTok, if its genius were imitable then it’s safe to say that U.S. politicians wouldn’t be trying to expropriate it. Evidence that it’s not imitable can be found in the fact that Facebook (among others) hasn’t been able to recreate similar user excitement on its own platform.

Stop and think about this assuming TikTok owner ByteDance could actually get a fair price in a sale. If so, there remains the problem of separating the business from the geniuses who have made it so special in the first place. The odds of the social media platform’s new owners being able to operate it as skillfully as its existing owners are plainly low. See the Patriots yet again. See Facebook’s efforts to beat TikTok in the marketplace.

The simple truth is that genius is rarely transferable, and the fact that it isn’t can almost certainly be found in TikTok’s resistance to a sale. If we ignore the illegality of property expropriation, along with the trampling on free speech, perhaps the biggest reason ByteDance refuses to sell is that to do so is to TikTok what letting Brady go was for the Patriots.

Republished from RealClear Markets


  • John Tamny

    John Tamny is a popular speaker and author in the U.S. and around the world. His speech topics include "Government Barriers to Economic Growth," "Why Washington and Wall Street are Better Off Living Apart," and more.

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