Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Sunder Pichai from Google’s parent company Alphabet are set to testify before the US Congress today. The four CEOs are testifying remotely for a hearing by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. It is the culmination of a year-long investigation into market domination, and the size and power of these tech behemoths.
Critics wonder whether the massive growth, power and influence of these companies stifle innovation and competition. In addition, they also wonder if they raise prices for customers while leaving no alternatives from smaller, independent rivals. The panel has collected testimony from mid-level executives from all four firms along with statements from legal experts and competitors. It has also examined more than a million internal documents in order to determine if existing antitrust laws are adequate. The sub-committee is also looking at new legislations needed for overseeing these tech giants.
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This investigation of competitive practices in the tech industry is the most high-powered and elaborate since the US government took a stance against Microsoft in 2001 for illegally maintaining its monopoly in the PC market. As mentioned above, the hearings will be conducted remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will begin at 12 pm EST on Wednesday.
Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple CEOs defend their companies; details
All four tech CEOs have prepared statements beforehand in order to defend their companies. In his prepared statement, Mark Zuckerberg highlights the proud American heritage, history of innovation, and the societal value of Facebook. “Facebook is a proudly American company. We believe in values – democracy, competition, inclusion, and free expression – that the American economy was built on,” says Zuckerberg. In addition, he stresses upon the value of strong and consistent competition and competing vigorously within the rules. He says, “Facebook is part of an industry that has changed the world. We face intense competition globally and we only succeed when we build things people find valuable. I’m proud that we stand for American values like giving every person a voice and expanding access to opportunity.”
In a statement posted on Amazon’s blog, Jeff Bezos outlines his challenging life growing up as the son of a single mother in New Mexico. He also mentions the life lessons he learnt while spending summers in his grandfather’s ranch in Texas where he understood the value of hard work, his step father’s determination to carve out a life in the USA, and more. “I took these lessons to heart as a teenager, and became a garage inventor,” he says. He also highlights how “Eighty percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Amazon overall, according to leading independent polls.” Bezos also notes, “Amazon’s investments have created nearly 700,000 indirect jobs in fields like construction, building services, and hospitality.”
Moving to Google, Sundar Pichai stresses on the value of free services like Search, Gmail, Maps, And Photos. Pichai emphasizes how they “provide thousands of dollars a year in value to the average American.” Apple CEO Tim Cook starts off by saying “Apple is a uniquely American company whose success is only possible in this country.” He also argues that “Apple does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business. That is just not true for the iPhone; it is true for any product category.” A major focus of his statement revolves around the App Store and the App Store ecosystem. Cook claims the App Store has provided more than 1.9 million American jobs in 50 states.