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As the U.S. government seeks to kill monopoly in the U.S. tech ecosystem, the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook were drilled to clarify their anti-competitive behavior.
U.S. top tech giants including the CEOs of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Google LLC (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) all faced the antitrust hearing in the United States Congress House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee on July 29. Each of the CEOs faced different scrutinies all bordering on their company’s actions to wade off competition.
In the age of global technological advancement, innovations permeate the tech ecosystem for which companies seek to extend value to end-users. The current tech ecosystem has varying product differentiation across various industries and fair competition is encouraged among the various tech companies spread across the United States.
The hearing by the House’s Antitrust Subcommittee is predicated upon the notion that the listed companies under their CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai and Jeff Bezos acted in an uncompetitive way under varying circumstances and at various times.
Facebook and Google’s Anticompetitive Drilling
In his session, Mark Zuckerberg was directly questioned about his company’s strategy of copying competitors’ apps and features, and even threatening to do so as a negotiation tactic amid Merger and Acquisition discussions. In his response, Zuckerberg was forced to admit the obvious: that Facebook, has “certainly adapted features that others have led in,” but that the social media giant did not do so in an anti-competitive way.
The grilling session did not end without Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) questioning the 36-year old CEO about his email from 2012 subsequently leading to the acquisition of social media competitor Instagram. The email featured a conversation between Zuckerberg and Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg. In the email, Facebook detailed the need to act fast to “prevent our competitors from getting footholds.” Sandberg replied saying: “it is hard not to agree it that is better to do more and move faster, especially if that means you don’t have competitors build products that take some of our users.”
The conversation which supposedly led to the acquisition of Instagram has been touted as a move to resort to boycotting fair competition as there were reports that FB had resorted to threats in its bid to acquire the social media outlet as confirmed by its Co-founder Kevin Systrom.
Google’s Sundar Pichai Answering Questions
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO had to face questions bordering on the corporation’s threat with rival companies including Yelp and Genius. Both Rep David Cicilline, the chairman of the subcommittee, and Rep Jim Jordan accused Google of stealing digital content from Yelp whom Google threatened to delist when the smaller outfit raised concerns. He said:
“The choice Google gave Yelp was let us steal your content or effectively disappear from the web site. Isn’t that anti-competitive?”
Responding, Pichai subtly avoided answering the question directly but rather noted:
“When I run the company, I’m really focused on giving users what they want. We conduct ourselves to the highest standard. Happy to engage, understand the specifics, and answer your questions further.”
His session proceeds with him having to face questions based on Google’s acquisition of YouTube as well as the alleged aid given to Hilary Clinton’s campaign
Antitrust Hearing Session with Apple and Amazon
The hearing session with the CEO of AAPL and AMZN did not go without FB similar heated questioning. Apple had been brought under the radar when it placed a lot of screen time software developers under intense scrutiny as a result of the tech giant debuting its Screen Time feature set last year. As a result of this intense review, many of the apps were unable to update their apps while others were outrightly rejected.
After being questioned about the use of third-party seller data to boost its business, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos saw the billionaire businessman agree that he could not guarantee that there has been no anti-competitive behavior in his firm. The Jeff Bezos’ session comes off as one of the most intense as the House of representatives members faced him with testimonies from his own staff.
The sessions which all happened virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is an attestation to how technology is changing the landscape and contributing to human development. A position that the Rep members want to reform for all aspiring innovators to thrive while wading off monopoly from the big four tech companies – Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.