When Presidential hopeful Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren called for the breakup of U.S. technology companies Google, Apple, and Amazon recently, she was right to do so. At an appearance at South by Southwest last week, the Massachusettes politician laid out how she would dismantle the tech giants if elected. What follows
A report by Andrew Sheivachman at Skift called my attention to this controversial proposal by Senator Warren. The Skift author’s major concern if Sen. Warren’s plan were to go through, seems to be whether or not platform users can get free apps or not, and how new legislation would affect the travel industry. Sheuvachman cites two effects the senator’s reform would have:
“First, it would prevent online platforms from selling their own products on their digital marketplaces. No more Amazon Basics diapers undercutting Pampers, for instance, or iMovie for sale on the App Store.”
The Skift author’s second concern/observation revolves around Warren’s mandate for breaking up the unfair competition and monopolistic acquisition tactics the technology giants currently deploy. The Skift article frames all the arguments for and against such regulation correctly. However, the Skift piece leaves off the fact that Google and these other companies are already virtual monopolies. The report ends with a tip of the hat to mighty Google and Amazon, companies Sheuvachman says “needn’t worry” because Warren’s legislation is years away. The Daily Beast takes another track. Gideon
“Beyond the overtures from GOP lawmakers and top Trump advisers, elements of the online right also cheered on Warren’s call to break up the tech giants. On “The Donald,” the leading pro-Trump forum on Reddit, posters praised the senator’s proposal—in part because they expected that it would alienate Democrats from wealthy Silicon Valley donors.”
With the election just over the horizon, Skift’s expert has failed to point out the obvious. The big tech boys have made very powerful enemies of competitors and among the people. Anyone on the streets of smalltown USA knows Google and Amazon have monopolized their respective digital realms, many lost their jobs because of this. People are just scared and tired of Google and other companies. The Daily Beast story frame it with:
“Hot points have included the banning of right-wing provocateurs and a short-lived Twitter prohibition on a campaign ad from then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Last year, pro-Trump commentators “Diamond & Silk” appeared at a congressional hearing to allege that Facebook was “shadow-banning
” conservativeson social media to reduce their visibility.”
I have been “shadow-banned” and I don’t like it. The point being, big tech has alienated, marginalized, or made outright enemies out of millions of their constituents. Not Senator Warren and other politicians will leverage this ultra-powerful situation to create a virally impactful partisan following. And this is good for 100 reasons. In addition, with Warren as a potential opponent to current President Donald Trump’s re-election, this issue may be one of the galvanizing issues for public opinion in the coming months. This Forbes story by Brittain Ladd frames the situation:
” U.S. President Donald Trump has been very vocal in his criticism of Amazon. Trump recently insinuated in a Tweet that Amazon has a “huge antitrust problem”. If Trump is reelected, it is plausible that Trump will pressure Congress and the Supreme Court to double down in evaluating options for introducing new laws or changing existing laws that could force Amazon to break up. Due to the growing number of voices in business and lower courts raising objections to Amazon’s rate of growth and market share, Congress and the Supreme Court won’t be able to avoid Amazon as a topic of discussion and review. ”
Whether or not the “antitrust” trend is a political football or a genuine push-back against monopolistic capitalism, the technocrats that have been leveraging every business space must pay attention now. Creating massive wealth and control in the travel space, for instance, is going to have a reverberating effect once smaller businesses and the traveling public catch on. The “lure” of cheaper and easier bookings, for instance, will end up in a diminished experience and real value for customers.
The objective of monopolies is to destroy competition to gain control – and this is the state of travel at this moment. Look at the top travel companies and their relative earnings positions. Expedia and Priceline earn ($120 billion) almost 4 times more than their next closest competitor, American Express Global Business Travel (about $30 billion). I for one say, it’s time for some trust-busting action to level the playing field.