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At what price estimate do you think Elsevier can be acquired?

Could acquiring Elsevier and reforming it to be less rent-seeking be feasible?

I did my bachelor thesis on a company that was acquired by elsevier for 100million USD. Elsevier (now called Relx) has a market cap of 60 billion USD. Getting a majority voting position would require dozens of billions probably. Counterfactual impact from allocating a couple dozen billion is much larger. So I think it's not feasible nor recommendable. 

What is a lower bound for the maximal counterfactual impact from allocating a couple dozen billion dollars?

My take is

  • It’s a bad system and maybe without much good infrastructure (innovative employees, legal environment etc) in place to be able to make it good within that system

  • Also worried that by buying them we will feel less compelled to build it into something better, this system has a decent chance of being disrupted soon (what Unjournal is trying to do, obviously)

  • I wouldn’t want to ‘reward the bad behavior’ and encourage future bad behavior by buying them out.


  • This may be a 1x thing so incentives may not matter.
  • I may be biased by my distaste for Elsevier and a misguided fairness concern

What problem would this solve? And how does the existence of Sci-Hub change the calculus?

So one alternative is to have a preprint server like arXiv (where papers can be posted) that directly serves as a journal, potentially with peer reviews that are also posted. Independent of paper availability to the public, this would also save researchers' time. (Instead of formatting papers to fit the Elsevier guidelines, they could be doing more research or training new researchers.)

A general class of problems for effective altruists is the following:

In some domains, there are a finite number of positions through which high-impact good can be done. These positions tend to be prestigious (perhaps rationally, perhaps not). So, there is strong zero-sum competition for these positions. The limiting factor is that effective altruists face steep competition for these positions against other well-intentioned people who are just not perfectly aligned on one or more crucial issues. 

One common approach is to really help the effective altruists to break through this competition. But this is hard. Another common approach is to try to convince non-effective altruists who have successfully broken into these positions to be more EA-aligned. But convincing experienced people is often difficult (you can't teach an old dog new tricks, generally speaking).

A thought I can't shake is that if we could reduce the competition somehow (expand the pie, target young and high-potential people, and more controversially, to convince non-EA-aligned people to drop out of the race) it would be much more feasible.


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