U.S. presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Amazon, Facebook, and Google and “unwind” all their recent acquisitions.
“Facebook, Amazon, and Google have vast power over our economy and democracy,” Ms. Warren tweeted today, linking to a Medium post that goes into greater detail about her plans. “They’ve bulldozed competition and tilted the playing field in their favor. Time to break up these companies so they don’t have so much power over everyone else.”
Warren’s Medium post references Microsoft and how the U.S. government successfully cowed that belligerent monopolist almost 20 years ago. It also inexplicably pokes fun at Microsoft.
“The federal government sued Microsoft for violating anti-monopoly laws and eventually reached a settlement,” she writes. “The government’s antitrust case against Microsoft helped clear a path for Internet companies like Google and Facebook to emerge. The story demonstrates why promoting competition is so important: it allows new, groundbreaking companies to grow and thrive — which pushes everyone in the marketplace to offer better products and services. Aren’t we all glad that now we have the option of using Google instead of being stuck with Bing?”
But her point is that today’s big tech companies, which only exist because Microsoft was busy fending off its antitrust issues, are too powerful.
“We need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor,” she continues. “That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition — including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.”
Warren’s plan goes beyond just breaking up these companies. She always wants to reverse what she calls “illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers.” Which, by the way, all met regulatory scrutiny. She would like to “unwind” the mergers and acquisitions that brought Whole Foods and Zappos to Amazon; WhatsApp and Instagram to Facebook; and Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick to Google. This will institute real change in the tech industry, she says.
“You’ll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today,” she explains. “You’ll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You’ll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing”
“Here’s what will change,” she continues. “Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.”
Honestly, the outcome sounds pretty reasonable. It’s just that reversing mergers and acquisitions that were approved in the past sounds awfully illegal.
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