After months of investigation, the FTC closed an antitrust investigation of Google with a relatively lenient settlement, requiring the company to change some advertising and search practices and limit injunctions based on its Motorola patents. It was a decision that didn't sit well with FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, nor with Microsoft, which has itself previously faced tough antitrust charges from the FTC. In a postmortem of the settlement, Politico's Tony Romm has dissected just how Google planned its Beltway strategy.
Alan Davidson, who led Google's Washington-based policy office until last year, says that the company had focused on defusing the issue for years. "We had the benefit of watching those who had come before us, and we saw the mistakes that were made. We didn’t want to replicate what they had done." That meant building a wide political base and some heavy lobbying, but also connecting with academics and public interest groups who could add heft to its arguments. Not everyone, of course, agrees that lobbying was what got Google off the hook. Professor Harry First of NYU tells Politico that "I think, in the end, the problem is that it’s a difficult case."