“Our investigation produced documents that show that sometimes Amazon doesn’t play fairly, crossing the line from robust competition to predatory pricing to destroy rivals rather than out-compete them,” said Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade.
The CEOs of four of the most valuable technology companies in the world — Google’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook — testified remotely on Wednesday in a House investigation into whether they are exercising monopoly power in violation of antitrust law in the United States and need to be broken up or more tightly regulated.
Amazon and Facebook came out of the hearing the most severely damaged with evidence obtained by the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law that strongly suggests they have engaged in illegal, predatory behavior.
There was also significant evidence that Google and Apple are engaging in practices that stifle competition and harm America.
Fines and new regulatory legislation are going to be needed to rein in the abuses.
What was missing from the hearing, unfortunately, was the critical role that Wall Street and the Securities and Exchange Commission have played behind the scenes that has enabled these tech firms to grow so powerful. We’ll get to that shortly, but first let’s get to what the hearing did cover.
Committee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) opened the hearing with a detailed statement that explained that the hearing was called after a year-long investigation in which “millions of pages of evidence,” were collected that included internal emails that were read later in the hearing, suggesting egregious predatory behavior against would-be competitors. Cicilline also said that the Subcommittee had conducted “hundreds of hours of interviews.”
Cicilline set the tone for the hearing with this explanation of each of the four tech giants:
“Amazon runs the largest online marketplace in America, capturing 70% of all online marketplace sales. It operates across a vast array of businesses—from cloud computing and movie production to transportation logistics and small business lending. Amazon’s market valuation recently hit $1.5 trillion, more than that of Walmart, Target, SalesForce, IBM, eBay, and Etsy combined.
“Apple is a dominant provider of smartphones, with more than 100 million iPhone users in the United States alone. In addition to hardware, Apple sells services and apps, including financial services, media, and games.
“Facebook is the world’s largest provider of social networking services, with a business model that sells digital ads. Despite a litany of privacy scandals and record-breaking fines, Facebook continues to enjoy booming profits—$18 billion last year alone.
“Lastly, Google is the world’s largest online search engine, capturing more than 90% of searches online. It controls key technologies in digital ad markets and enjoys more than a billion users across six products—including browsers, smartphones, and digital maps.”
Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, attempted to roll out a heart-wrenching, pulling-himself-up-by-the-bootstraps story about his early years to disarm hearing watchers as to what was to come in the way of hard evidence against his company. According to evidence introduced in the hearing, Amazon, the company he founded in his garage, has been using a raft of dirty, sneaky tricks to seduce small businesses into selling their wares at Amazon.com, then spying on their internal sales data that Amazon collects in order to crush them and steal their business…