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“This would push VCs and entrepreneurs to truly compete with Google.Right now, their strategy isn’t to do that because they want to get acquired.” Amazon makes life hard for its competitors — and by now, the company is competing against nearly everyone.“Suddenly, you have to compete with Google, you can’t just be bought out by Google.” That might sound tame compared to Europe’s billion-dollar fines, but it cuts to the core of how Google is organized.
We need a new standard for monopolies, they argue, one that focuses less on consumer harm and more on the skewed incentives produced by a company the size of Facebook or Google.
Someday soon, those ideas will be put to the test, probably against one of a handful of companies.
Google also has clear and committed enemies, with Microsoft, Oracle, Yelp, and even the Motion Picture Association of America calling for restrictions on the company’s power.
Some of those restrictions are already starting to take shape in Europe, as Google faces a $5 billion fine for alleged anti-competitive Android bundling and a separate $4 billion GDPR case that alleges stingy opt-out provisions. Orrin Hatch called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate anti-competitive effects from Google’s dominance in online ads and search, hinting that similar regulatory pressure may not be far off in the US.
(As of press time, Google is worth roughly $840 billion.) Of course, Klobuchar’s bill doesn’t focus on Google or even tech giants, but Stoller says that kind of blockade would have a unique effect on how big companies shape the startup world.
“All of these companies, from Amazon to Facebook to Google, they proactively find their competitors and buy them out,” says Stoller.
To that end, here’s the case against four of the movement’s biggest targets, and what they might look like if they came out on the losing end.
(Note: Apple was too much of a conventional retailer to make the list, but if you’re wondering what an antitrust lawsuit against Cupertino might look like, this is a pretty good place to start.) Our best model for tech antitrust is the Department of Justice’s anti-bundling case against Microsoft in the ‘90s, which argued that Microsoft was using its control over the PC market to force out competing operating systems and browsers.
Antitrust crusaders have built up serious momentum in Washington, but so far, it’s all been theory and talk.
Groups like Open Markets have made a strong case that big companies (especially big tech companies) are distorting the market to drive out competitors.