Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


The most glorious thing about the fight to host Amazon's second headquarters is that no competing city seems out of it.

And there are said to be 238 cities who put in a bid.

I, though, have been following the betting.

I always wonder if the smart money will pile in on the basis of some insider knowledge.

At first, the odds at world-famous bookies Paddy Power were divided between two favorites -- Atlanta, Georgia and Austin, Texas.

Last month, Atlanta pulled ahead. It was the 3/1 favorite, with Austin drifting to 7/1, alongside Boston and Toronto. 

I happened to look at the betting today, though, and there's been another vast movement.

Atlanta and Austin are back as joint favorites at 3/1. 

What might have caused this shift? The obvious thought is that a considerable amount of money has gone on Austin in recent days.

Why might that be? 

Coincidentally, I chatted with Seattle-based Strategy and Supply Chain Consultant Brittain Ladd, who has strong feelings on the subject. (Well, his LinkedIn profile says Kroger is one of his clients and he's also worked for Amazon in the past.) 

He was fascinated by the thoughts of marketing expert Scott Galloway, the man who predicted that Amazon would buy Whole Foods. 

Galloway insists that Jeff Bezos will open his so-called HQ2 in New York City, because that's where the top tech talent wants to live. (New York is still an underdog at 14/1.)

Ladd fancies himself as a touch prescient too. In 2013, he wrote a paper in which he suggested Amazon should buy Whole Foods or H-E-B, a Texas grocery chain.

When the bidding was announced, he suggested four Texas cities for Amazon's new HQ:  Frisco, Austin, Ft. Worth or Dallas.

Ladd told me that Texas is the most business friendly state and grocery, in his view, has an enormous potential for growth. 

"Texas will invest in the hyperloop and will grant Amazon approval to test the use of drones on a large scale. The geography of Texas makes this easy. Amazon needs to focus on researching and designing the supply chain and logistics of the future today. Texas is a great location to do this," he added.

He added that research he has seen suggests that tech talent is tired of living in expensive, congested places, preferring, you know, sanity. (Wait, he said Texas, right? There's sanity there?)

"Texas can meet the living needs of everyone who wants to live in a city as well as meet the needs of associates who want to live in homes and raise families," he told me.  

Another aspect is, of course, that Whole Foods is headquartered in, oh look, Austin. Add to that the fact that Bezos has a ranch in Texas and you can easily persuade yourself Austin is the answer.

It is, indeed, a lovely place. Except for the summer weather, that is, which could drive anyone perfectly potty. 

Some might wonder, though, whether a large-scale Amazon invasion would alter the city's character.

Amazon says it will make its decision next year. 

I predict the betting may alter a little before then.