Buy Standard Oil.” That’s what John D. Rockefeller is said to have told his golf partner, a priest when he heard the news in 1911 that the Supreme Court had ruled his oil company was to be broken up into 34 smaller firms. It was good advice. Within a few years, the value of those firms rose threefold. The net worth of Rockefeller, who owned more than 25% of each, grew from about $300m in 1911 to $900m in 1913, around $23bn in current dollars.
A break-up of today’s tech titans—Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple—could also unlock vast value, say some with an eye on the industry. If the most radical plan, proposed by Elizabeth Warren, a leading Democratic contender for America’s presidency, were fully implemented, by some calculations the parts spun off alone could be worth over $2trn—roughly half the value of the four complete firms today.
For roughly five months, the predominant storyline in Big Tech has been skirmishes with antitrust regulators and their escalating investigations. And for nearly five months, investors haven’t blinked.
Fear of a looming recession could change all that. But for now, expect more of the same when the four companies under scrutiny report their quarterly results over the next two weeks.
Shares of the principal targets — Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL, +1.32% GOOG, +1.31% Google, Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.20% , Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.34% and Facebook Inc. FB, +2.09% — have improved since early June, when news leaked of separate Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission probes into their business practices.
Big tech has ushered in a second Gilded Age. We must relearn the lessons of the first, writes the former US labor secretary
Last week, the New York Times revealed that Facebook executives withheld evidence of Russian activity on their platform far longer than previously disclosed. They also employed a political opposition research firm to discredit critics.
There’s a larger story here.
America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century began with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – but culminated in mammoth trusts owned by “robber barons” who used their wealth and power to drive out competitors and corrupt American politics.
Facebook and Google dominate advertising. They’re the first stops for many Americans seeking news. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything.
We’re now in a second Gilded Age – ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet – that has spawned a handful of giant hi-tech companies.
This consolidation at the heart of the American economy creates two big problems.
America responded to the Gilded Age’s abuses of corporate power with antitrust laws
First, it stifles innovation. Contrary to the conventional view of a US economy bubbling with inventive small companies, the rate at which new job-creating businesses have formed in the United States has been halved since 2004, according to the census.
A major culprit: Big tech’s sweeping patents, data, growing networks, and dominant platforms have become formidable barriers to new entrants.
The second problem is political. These massive concentrations of economic power generate political clout that’s easily abused, as the New York Times investigation of Facebook reveals. How long will it be before Facebook uses its own data and platform against critics? Or before potential critics are silenced even by the possibility?
America responded to the Gilded Age’s abuses of corporate power with antitrust laws that allowed the government to break up the largest concentrations.
President Teddy Roosevelt went after the Northern Securities Company, a giant railroad trust financed by JP Morgan and John D Rockefeller, the nation’s two most powerful businessmen. The US supreme court backed Roosevelt and ordered the company dismantled.
In 1911, President William Howard Taft broke up Rockefeller’s sprawling Standard Oil empire.
It is time to use antitrust again. We should break up the hi-tech behemoths, or at least require they make their proprietary technology and data publicly available and share their platforms with smaller competitors.
There would be little cost to the economy, since these giant firms rely on innovation rather than economies of scale – and, as noted, they’re likely to be impeding innovation overall.
But is this politically feasible? Unlike the Teddy Roosevelt Republicans, Trump and his enablers in Congress have shown little appetite for antitrust enforcement.
Republicans rhapsodize about the “free market” but have no qualms about allowing big corporations to rig it at the expense of average people. Yet as the late Robert Pitofsky, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, once noted: “Antitrust is a deregulatory philosophy. If you’re going to let the free market work, you’d better protect the free market.”
But the Democrats, for their part, have shown no greater appetite for antitrust – especially when it comes to big tech.
In 2012, the staff of the FTC’s bureau of competition submitted to the commissioners a 160-page analysis of Google’s dominance in the search and related advertising markets, and recommended suing Google for conduct that “has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation”.
But the commissioners, most of them Democratic appointees, chose not to pursue the case.
The Democrats’ recent “better deal” platform, which they unveiled a few months before the midterm election, included a proposal to attack corporate monopolies in industries as wide-ranging as airlines, eyeglasses, and beer. But, notably, the proposal didn’t mention big tech.
Tim Cook: tech firms should prepare for ‘inevitable’ regulation
Big US technology companies should brace themselves for “inevitable” regulation, according to Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook.
Cook predicted the US would pass new laws targeting technology firms “at some point” to prevent the misuse of personal data, after a leak of Facebook user information to Cambridge Analytica that resulted in Mark Zuckerberg being hauled in front of Congress.
“Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation,” Cook told Axios. “I’m a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn’t worked here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation.”
Cook argued that tech companies should embrace new regulations. “This is not a matter of privacy versus profits or privacy versus technical innovation,” he said. “That’s a false choice.”
In March, Cook sharply rebuked Zuckerberg and Facebook’s business model, saying detailed profiles of individuals compiled by internet platforms should not exist. He called for “some well-crafted regulations” to prevent the information of users being put together and passed on without their knowledge.
The Apple boss has been sounding the alarm on mass data collection by Facebook and Google for years. He has been careful to distinguish between Apple’s business model – selling products to customers for a profit – and that of internet platforms that, he said, are “gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it”.
In a speech in Brussels last month, Cook used even stronger language when he said mass data collection from companies such as Google and Facebook was “surveillance” and “weaponized against us with military efficiency”.
It emerged in October that Google failed to disclose a data leak for months, fearing a regulatory clampdown: a bug in Google+ allowed third-party app developers to access the data not just of users who granted permission but also that of their friends.
Maybe the Democrats are reluctant to attack the industry because it has directed so much political funding to Democrats. In the 2018 midterms, the largest recipient of big tech’s largesse, ActBlue, a fundraising platform for progressive candidates, collected nearly $1bn, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
As the New York Times investigation makes clear, political power can’t be separated from economic power. Both are prone to abuse.
Antitrust law was viewed as a means of preventing giant corporations from undermining democracy. “If we will not endure a king as a political power,” thundered Ohio’s Senator John Sherman, the sponsor of the nation’s first antitrust law in 1890, “we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale” of what the nation produced.
In the second Gilded Age as in the first, giant firms at the center of the American economy are distorting the market and our politics.
We must resurrect antitrust. Source
President Donald Trump Has Accused the Tech Giants of Suppressing Voices, Particularly Christian Conservatives
Critics of Christianity have become more vocal recently. This is partly because there are many people who do not believe in God or understand the truth about Him at all. Yet the apparent increase of anti-Christians is also due to perception. As with many topics, those who truly despise Christianity are the loudest and most vocal of the non-believers. The vast majority of those who do not believe don’t care enough to bother believers. The few angry, vocal, bitter unbelievers make enough noise to seem more numerous than they are.
President Donald Trump has accused the tech giants of suppressing voices, particularly Christian conservatives.
The president criticized the social media sites and popular search engine for “really trying to silence a very large part of this country” from the White House on Wednesday afternoon, after tweeting accusations of censorship against the digital entities earlier this week.
“I think they treat Republicans and conservatives very unfairly,” he said. “It’s not right, it’s not fair, it may not be legal.”
Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple are at the center of a big investigation by the US government.
In an announcement Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans to launch an in-depth anti-trust probe into the tech companies.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a tweet, “Unwarranted, concentrated economic power in the hands of a few is dangerous to democracy….the era of self-regulation is over.”
Today, everything is connected to the Internet; it is the foundation on which our economy, democracy & attention rest. @HouseJudiciary will begin a long-overdue investigation to determine if dominant digital platforms have harmed Americans in the marketplace & the voting booth.
Unwarranted, concentrated economic power in the hands of a few is dangerous to democracy – especially when digital platforms control content. The era of self-regulation is over.8,0167:04 PM – Jun 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy2,719 people are talking about this
The probe will examine if tech companies are using anti-competitive practices, among other concerns. The investigation comes just days after reports that the Department of Justice is preparing to examine Google’s internal practices and search rankings.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to scrutinize the companies for some time.
President Donald Trump has accused the tech giants of suppressing voices, particularly Christian conservatives.
“I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook are really treading on the very, very troubled territory,” he said in the past.
Many conservatives argue they are censored for simply posting conservative ideas.
Conservative Candace Owens was suspended from Facebook after she posted that liberal policies were harmful to black families. After backlash, Facebook claimed the suspension was a mistake and reinstated her account.
“They set up rules that are liberal,” said Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center. “They hire staff who are liberal. The staff give politically to liberal candidates and then when you appeal it you have to talk to the liberal staff and you know it’s just sort of…we’re boxed in on all sides.”
It is an issue that is aligning both Republicans and Democrats and has become a campaign talking point for Democrats running for president. Source
Both Facebook and Twitter have denied partisan censorship in separate congressional testimonies, while Google responded to the president’s accusations on Tuesday in a statement saying the search engine is “not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results towards any political ideology.”
Wednesday marked the second day in a row in which the president addressed Google and other platforms from the White House, having previously claimed that the search engine was “treading on very, very troubled territory” along with Twitter and Facebook.
The Birth Pains Are Growing Stronger….
“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of man and devils”…
My name is Steve Meyers and I need to share a vision and warning that the Lord showed me back in April 2007….
Many of you will ask why I waited so long to share the warning. I didn’t. I shared the story with everyone that would listen from pastors to friends to family to colleagues. Immediately following the initial vision, I called a close friend. I told him to sit down that I had something to tell him. I needed it documented as I knew this was supernatural and from God. As I witness events unfolding today, I need to share the vision again.
The light went out in the church, and that’s the reason the world got dark. Dark times were perpetrated by the “last one out, turn out the lights” “The church lights have gone OUT”.
Let Me Make This Abundantly Clear. (I Am Apolitical) While I Have a General Distaste for Politicians No Matter the Party They Belong To, I Am Unashamedly Politically a Bible Believing Conservative Christian. I Have a Severe Distrust of Government. I Believe It Is the Most Inefficient and Ineffective Way to Accomplish Most Things. While I Strongly Disagree with Liberals/Progressives and Conservative on Most Political Issues, and While I Believe Liberals/Progressives and Most Politicians Are Terribly Misguided and Naive About What Big Government Will Eventually Result In, I Strive to Not Question Their Motives. at the Same Time, While I Find Myself in Agreement with Conservative Politicians on Some Issues, I Do Not Believe Electing Republicans Is the Answer to Everything. for Me, Very Sadly, the Main Difference Between Republicans and Democrats Is How Quickly They Want to Drive the Car Towards the Cliff. Simply Put, I Do Not Believe the Government Is the Solution for Everything. I Do Not Place Any Faith, Trust, or Hope in Any Politicians to Fix What Is Wrong with the World. “Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20) StevieRay Hansen
Our government has been overthrown. As evidenced by Trump’s capitulation on the border, his recent servitude to the GMO industry and his acquiescence to the warmongers, our President has been compromised. Our liberties are being eliminated one by one. Gun confiscation is next. The Constitution is gasping its last breaths. Our borders are destroyed and our culture has been turned upside down by every perversion known to man.
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