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

I can't remember a time when the opening of a new headquarters generated such excitement.

Somehow, the idea of 238 cities going down on their knees -- in the hope of being favored by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos -- has the world with its mouth agape.

Initially, it seemed that Austin, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia were the two clear favorites.

In the betting, that is.

Weeks later, it was joined again by Austin

This morning, I went to the Paddy Power site and was stunned. The betting had disappeared entirely.

I immediately contacted the company to ask what was going on. Had there been subterfuge? Was there talk of insider trading?

No, I was told, but there had been major movement in the market.

Within a few minutes, the new odds were up. 

Yes, Austin and Atlanta are still at 3/1. Suddenly, though, there was an interloper at 5/1. 

Dublin.

No, not the one in California. The one in Ireland.

Would Amazon really place its second headquarters outside of America? That would certainly reinforce its credentials as a worldwide brand. 

It might also, one imagines, have one or two fascinating tax implications

It's not as if Dublin is alone as a foreign city. Toronto is at 7/1.

Moreover, Bezos is fond of not doing the obvious -- the sorts of things that wise Wall Street mouthpieces insist he should.

Still, some will undoubtedly be stunned at this sudden Irish surge.

I asked Paddy Power why this betting line has been so popular.

Company spokesman Lee Price told me that there was a lot of money being placed on this market, more than many that are usually busy on its site. 

Moreover, he said Paddy Power has done nothing to promote it. This has been a market as organic as Whole Foods.

Will all the wise have to now think again about their predictions? 

For example, marketing expert Scott Galloway insists that the so-called HQ2 will be in New York, because that's where exciting tech people want to live. (New York still languishes at 14/1.)

Perhaps you'll think all this betting is frippery. But as long as there's no announcement -- it should come some time next year -- people will wonder.

And speculate.

Some people are putting their money where their speculation is.

It's thought-provoking, however, to consider where Paddy Power was founded.

Why, Dublin.

Have there been local inside whispers?

I asked Paddy Power's Price who was putting all this money on the fair Irish city.

His reply: "It's a very weird world."

Published on: Dec 11, 2017
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