WILMINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Above the fold of Symbotic’s website, the trademarked phrase “reinvent the warehouse, reimagine the supply chain” greets visitors. The robotics software company just completed a merger with a special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPV) created by Softbank to take it public in a $5.5 billion deal with Walmart, which partnered with Rick Cohen’s technology side business to roll out an “Industry-Leading Supply Chain Automation System” in July.
Born into the grocery business fortune established in 1918 by his grandfather, Israel, the third generation food distribution magnate is the sole proprietor of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. – the largest wholesale grocery supplier in the world. Described as “the biggest company no one has ever heard of”, C&S presides over one of the single most important links in the global supply chain, distributing virtually everything found in your supermarket aisles to more than 7,700 stores through its 49 distribution centers across the country.
Cohen keeps a very low profile. C&S doesn’t even put the company logo on its trucks and despite being one of the richest men in the world, he is usually left out of the wealth ranking lists put out by publications like Forbes. The last time any details about his personal fortune made it into the news back in 2013, his net worth was calculated at $11.2 billion. His relatively modest lifestyle in the small city of Keene, New Hampshire, belies his influence in the tectonic changes currently taking place in the movement of physical goods and natural resources around the globe.
Symbotic has been building robots for the logistics management industry since its founding in 2007, shortly after the wholesale giant had expanded its operations into the retail sector. Both companies are sole proprietorships owned by Cohen and are leaders in their respective specialties, which nonetheless are parallel. Symbotic will become a publicly-traded company if the merger with the Cayman Islands-registered SPAC closes successfully early next year.
Underwritten by Citicorp, Deutsche Bank and UBS, Softbank’s SPV makes a significant addition to the company’s Vision Fund, the centerpiece of Softbank founder Masayoshi Son’s megalomaniac 300-year plan to usher in a transhumanist future complete with telepathic computer-brain interfaces and cloned sheep, as laid out in a slide deck presented at the company’s 30th annual meeting in 2017.
As reported by Silicon Icarus, the pandemic has provided the perfect cover for what is a long-planned recalibration of global supply chain systems to accommodate the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) paradigm. This partnership between the world’s largest wholesale supplier, the largest retailer and the biggest technology investor leaves no doubt about which direction the wind is blowing.
Preparing the Landing
Rick Cohen’s father, Lester, knew how to gauge the air. After flying 42 bomber missions over the Philippines and Okinawa in World War II, he returned to the family business and expanded operations by supplying U.S. military bases around the world, and cemented the company’s lucrative relationship with the defense industry, which continues to this day.
Aside from its large fleet of trucks that shuttle goods to clients like Target and the Winn Dixie supermarket chain it now owns, C&S operates a few airplanes it uses to transport clients and employees across the world and, sometimes, to deliver aid for the U.S. government as part of the Corporate Angel Network, Sky Hope Network and AERObridge organizations.
Active in “humanitarian flying” for several decades, C&S has built a private aviation division with its own fuel tankfacilities and a stable of experienced pilots. In 2010, Rick Cohen dispatched his Hawker 900XP jet to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake as part of its STAND WITH HAITI campaign, which collected cash donations for three non-profits: Oxfam International, Arkansas-based Heifer International and Soros-backed Partners In Health (PIH).
The latter is a Massachusetts-based NGO covered last year by this author, which has extensive and long-standing ties to the burgeoning biosecurity state, the Department of Defense and the Clinton Foundation. Operating in Haiti since the U.S.-backed removal of Jean Bertrand-Aristide from power – in which its founder participated directly –, PIH has been at the center of deployment of global public health-related surveillance measures, such as contact tracing programs and “sustainable health systems” from Africa to the Caribbean.
Lest we pigeonhole Cohen, the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School graduate is a big Republican donor, as well. A man with such a broad reach is best to cover all of his bases, after all, and if the latest move is any indication, casting a wide enough net of political benefactors will be pivotal to not only the success of his robotics company, but to the larger ambitions of his new business partners.
Yossi Cohen (no relation), is just coming into his own as head of Softbank’s new offices in Israel. The former Mossad chiefunderscored the pandemic’s importance in paving the way for “advanced technologies”, repeating assertions made by everybody’s favorite villain, Bill Gates, at the Unicorn Forum conference held over weekend in Tel Aviv. It was “fortunate the pandemic happened now,” Cohen said during a panel session, crediting the health crisis’ timing for allowing us to “talk on Zoom”.
Clearly, video chats are the least among the many shifts to digital technology currently taking place, which have accelerated exponentially over the last two years and seem to invade more and more of our daily activities. In tandem with remote face-to-face exchanges have come digital ID systems tied to medical status or vaccine records, the rise of a concomitant data-driven genomic health industry and the explosion of cryptocurrencies and their adoption by financial institutions on the way towards a global digital money regime.
All of these, in turn, are linked to the deployment of blockchain technologies. Distributed digital ledger systems will emanate from the supply chain, itself, under the control of its biggest players. Walmart has been urging its suppliers to adopt IBM’s Hyperledger since May, 2020, while C&S Wholesale Grocers has been investing in blockchain and cloud computing applications for several years now. Its top platform analytics vendor is none other than Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy, which is leading the way for Bitcoin integrations across the wholesale and retail industries.
A new venture by Softbank-backed crypto company in Brazil, which wants to “be the infrastructure provider for the token economy” in Latin America, according to its CEO, reveals just how far the so-called Great Reset has already come in a very short span of time. Further evidence that we stand at the threshold of an enormous transformation is Monday’s announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris of significant investments by major corporations like Mastercard, Microsoft and agribusiness giant Cargill in Central America, where experiments in blockchain governance are being established in Honduras and El Salvador.
Meanwhile, the “normalization” of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is opening the door for the equivalent to unfold on the other side of the world, where Yossi Cohen is not only hoping to meet the “expectations defined to [him] by Softbank”, but also secure a future for his daughter by getting her a job in an intelligence gatheringoperation, disguised as an Emirati AI and cloud computing company called Group 42.
The Abraham Accords are speeding up the process with mega smart city projects such as Neom in Saudi Arabia, built in partnership with UK-based Arqit, which will force the resettlement of 20,000 people to implement the British company’s “Quantum Blockchain” system “capable of defending cognitive cities against cyber-attacks from the most advanced computers to emerge in coming years (emphasis added)”.
The wholesale reorganization of society under the banner of technological advancement is reaching the point of no return as countries around the world, whose economies have been ground to a selective halt by the relentless reappearance of dubious viral strains to keep their workforces home and their businesses shuttered, find themselves over a barrel. At the same time, political divisions serve to distract the vast majority of people from what is actually taking place, leaving the coast clear for the Walmarts, the C&S’s and the Softbanks of the world to consolidate their gains and lead us down the road to a tokenized dystopia, where robots do the work and we sit back and hope the value of our humanity doesn’t crash by the market’s opening.