Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s Tim Cook are scheduled to sit before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee and defend against accusations of monopolistic behavior. The hearing is going to be in the spotlight as the 13-month investigation into marketplaces and competition can end up limiting the companies’ ability to further monopolize the digital marketplace.
The four tech giants face growing criticism from the US Congress and regulators who point out the growing companies’ dominance in the market. Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google are accused of bolstering their power by acquiring small emerging rivals, using competitors’ data for their sales promotions, etc.
Facebook and Google sell ads, Amazon is a retailer and operates a digital marketplace, while Apple makes money from hardware and software. The Big Four are accused of monopolistic behavior both in the US and the European Union.
In a joint statement, Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Panel chairman, and David Cicilline, the House Antitrust Subcommittee chairman, said that the CEOs' testimony is essential for the committee to complete the investigation.
As smaller competitors have filed complaints about the big tech platforms’ dominance, the investigation can result in regulation, disrupting the monopolies of Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple in the digital marketplace. Lawmakers are expected to conclude the investigation over the next couple of weeks, Reuters reported.
Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook are allowed to testify virtually. Bloomberg reports that big tech companies are on a shopping spree this year, with 29% more acquisitions through June 30, compared to the same period of 2019. Microsoft deals are included in the statistics, and some experts furrow their eyebrows as Microsoft is missing from this landmark hearing.
You will be able to watch the antitrust hearing live here.
What is at stake for Big Four?
Facebook is mostly grilled for its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which drove the growth of the company. These acquisitions helped Facebook cement its position in the advertising market in the US alongside Google. Facebook is also accused of putting the whole apps market into stagnation for a while.
Mark Zuckerberg is already familiar with congressional hearings. In October 2019, he testified before the House Financial Services Committee regarding his plans for the new cryptocurrency Libra.
In 2018, he was roasted in the Senate for five hours straight as he answered tough questions on privacy, data mining, Cambridge Analytica, and Russia’s exploitation of Facebook in 2016.
The company is accused of using data collected from small businesses to shape its competing products offered on the platform.
Amazon has denied the accusations, but the Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s employees used proprietary information to create new products and therefore to push its competitors out of the market.
In June, it was reported that the European Union is preparing antitrust charges against Amazon for abusing its dominance and boxing out smaller rivals.
The Justice Department is likely to file a case against Google this summer. The search giant is dominating the online advertising industry while fighting allegations of using its dominant position to promote its own products over rivals in online search.
Apple will be questioned whether it intentionally disadvantages apps that could rival any of its products. The company is also facing two European Commission probes.
Last year, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek filed an unfair competition complaint against Apple with the European Commission, claiming that the only way to sell content within an iOS app is via Apple’s own system and there’s no way to tell users that the same item can be purchased cheaper elsewhere. Apple charges apps a 30% cut of any sales in the first year.
Rakuten, one of the largest e-commerce companies in Japan, also filed a similar complaint against Apple in the EU.