Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson urged government to stop letting big business crush the little guys in their
dual Google Hangout sessionon Thursday afternoon.
“Do whatever you can to foster the growth of other small companies — they’re like tadpoles. Anything that can be done to allow it to grow a little bit and sustain itself in the midst of big competition is important,” Musk said. “My advice to government at the regional or state level: shield [small companies] from big companies that will try to stamp them out. I know Richard had a battle with British Airways, thank God that worked out because Virgin is awesome.”
Branson jumped in, too:
“It’s government’s role, generally, to make sure that doesn’t happen; government doesn’t always play that role very well.”
“In a small country like Great Britain, we’ve urged the government to set up something, instead of getting grants from government to go to university, we want grants to set up your business idea,” Branson said. “If government could do things more like that around the world, that would be good.”
Branson recounted his battle between Virgin Airways and British Airways after Musk alluded to the feud, something that could have been avoided if the British government had stepped in sooner, according to Branson. Instead, he was forced to “sue the bastards,” which resulted in a litigation nightmare.
Now in the US, Branson claims, United is “doing everything they can to get rid of Virgin America.”
“The quality of our product is so much better than theirs,” said Branson. “They’re really going out of their way, but as Elon said earlier, you’ve really got to be the best in your field.”
Branson’s remarks weren’t completely unfounded, either, as his Virgin America was just ranked as the best U.S. airline.
But the real issue at hand is how starting a fledgling business can be an intimidating feat in a world where mega corporations eat up everything around them. The resulting threat could deter entrepreneurs from powering through difficulties or picking up and trying again, as both Branson and Musk have had to do.
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