On Wednesday, by videoconference, the CEOs of some of the largest and most powerful technology companies—Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos—testified to Congress before the House Antitrust Subcommittee on the topic of whether their businesses discourage competition.
House lawmakers have been investigating these four companies to determine whether they are essentially too large, and in effect function like monopolies. Antitrust investigations have been underway for several months.
"Many of the practices used by these companies have harmful economic effects," said Rep. David N. Cicilline, chair of the House Judiciary's Antitrust Subcommittee. "Simply put, they have too much power, staving off creativity and innovation...killing the overall dynamism that is the engine of the American economy."
Here are snippets of what the big tech CEOs told Congress:
Mark Zuckerberg: "We believe in values—democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression—that the American economy was built on. Many other tech companies share these values, but there's no guarantee our values will win out. For example, China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries."
Jeff Bezos: "It’s not a coincidence that Amazon was born in this country. More than any other place on Earth, new companies can start, grow, and thrive here in the U.S. Our country embraces resourcefulness and self-reliance, and it embraces builders who start from scratch. We nurture entrepreneurs and start-ups with stable rule of law, the finest university system in the world, the freedom of democracy, and a deeply accepted culture of risk-taking."
Tim Cook: "Apple is a uniquely American company whose success is only possible in this country...Apple does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business."
Sundar Pichai: "Just as American leadership in these areas is not inevitable, we know Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving. Today’s competitive landscape looks nothing like it did 5 years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search."
TheStreet's Jim Cramer weighed in before the hearing: "Everyone wants to investigate these companies because these companies have wiped out a lot of jobs. But at the same time, what are you going to do to them? It's kind of like Standard Oil. You break it up, you create more value. AT&T. You break it up, you create more value. As a shareholder, I don't think you have to worry. If you were working there, I think you have to worry."
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