On July 29th, the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee held a hearing with four of the biggest figures in tech: Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Google’s Sundar Pichai. But while the CEOs’ testimonies got most of the attention, the subcommittee also published a treasure trove of internal documents from the companies, providing an unexpected look into the internal workings of some of the largest and most secretive companies in the world.
Some of those documents have gone into building the antitrust case for breaking these companies up — or at least heavily regulating them. But others simply give a glimpse into how the world’s largest tech companies operate, showing internal disagreements and relentless pressure to succeed.
Aug 3, 2020
The New York and California attorneys general, along with the Federal Trade Commission, plan to investigate Amazon’s online Marketplace platform, Bloomberg News reported on Monday. The agencies are going to interview witnesses jointly on conference calls over the next few weeks, in what Bloomberg suggests may be the beginnings of a formal antitrust enforcement action following last week’s landmark Big Tech antitrust hearing.Read Article >
The news comes after intense questioning over Amazon’s Marketplace practices during the hearing. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) asked CEO Jeff Bezos whether its actions toward Marketplace sellers was a pattern of behavior. She played testimony from a third-party bookseller who believed Amazon had blocked their store, without providing an explanation why, effectively destroying her business.
Jul 31, 2020
On July 29th, the long-awaited Big Tech antitrust hearing from the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee was held. For several hours, four of the biggest figures in tech — Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Google’s Sundar Pichai — were grilled by lawmakers.Read Article >
This week on The Vergecast, The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Makena Kelly, Adi Robertson, and Casey Newson dedicated an entire episode to the important moments from the six-hour hearing, the notable emails and internal documents made available from the investigation, and how effective the panel was in laying out a case for regulating big tech companies in the US.
Jul 31, 2020
Massive tech companies may have been the focus of this week’s antitrust hearing, but one of the most arresting speeches came from a much smaller outfit.Read Article >
Partway through the hearing, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) played testimony from a third-party textbook seller on Amazon, who believed the company had started blocking their store as it grew more successful. At the time of the testimony, they hadn’t been able to sell a book for ten months, and despite hundreds of messages to Amazon, they couldn’t get an answer as to why.
Jul 30, 2020
Before Android, before the iPhone, and before GoPro became a known brand, the Flip Video camcorder took the world by storm, allowing millions to shoot digital home videos one-handed and easily save, share, and upload them to a nascent YouTube, thanks to an iconic flip-out USB port.Read Article >
What you probably didn’t know: the Flip Video was almost a Google-branded camera, internal Google emails revealed by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust sub-committee show. It would have been Google’s first camera and perhaps the first piece of Google-branded hardware as well.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held its last hearing as part of its year-long investigation into anti-competitive behavior in the tech industry. As part of that probe, lawmakers obtained around 1.3 million documents from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google ahead of their final hearing featuring the chief executives of each of the companies. Dozens of these documents were released on Wednesday, including email threads between CEO Jeff Bezos and other Amazon employees explaining the company’s decision to purchase Ring.Read Article >
“Feel good about moving forward with Ring due diligence, willing to pay for market position as it’s hard to catch the leader,” Jeff Helbling, an Amazon vice president, said in an email dated October 11th, 2017. Amazon officially bought Ring in February 2018.
Jul 30, 2020
Apple hasn’t always known what public position to take on right-to-repair policies and legislation, according to recently published internal emails. The 2019 discussion, provided to Congress for its antitrust investigation, highlights the Apple PR team’s struggle to keep public messaging cohesive amid stories covering internal repair developments that seemingly open up Apple’s repair ecosystem.Read Article >
The email exchanges are part of a trove of documents published by the US House Judiciary Committee surrounding its antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. The committee’s first hearing on the topic took place over five hours yesterday with the CEOs of all the tech companies calling in remotely.
Jul 30, 2020
The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee has just released a huge trove of internal documents from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google as part of its vast investigation into the tech industry. The documents reveal the internal machinations of companies that are typically highly secretive — and they even include a few buried emails from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which we’ve shared below.Read Article >
Two sets of emails discuss the decisions that, to this day, keep iPhone and iPad users from buying digital books in Amazon’s apps. (You have to use a web browser as a workaround.)
Jul 30, 2020
Newly released emails from April 2012 show Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives were frustrated by slow internal prototyping and weighed the benefits of quickly copying and iterating on smaller apps like Pinterest instead.Read Article >
A chain of messages starts with Zuckerberg recounting a meeting with the founders of Chinese social networking app Renren. “In China there is this strong culture of cloning things quickly and building lots of different products,” he wrote. “Seeing all this and the pace that new mobile apps seem to be coming out from other companies makes me think we’re moving very slowly. ... I wonder what we could do to move a lot faster.”
Jul 30, 2020
During a hearing before the House antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook testified that “we apply the rules to all developers evenly” when it comes to the App Store. But documents revealed by the subcommittee’s investigation show Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue offered Amazon a unique deal in 2016: Apple would only take a 15 percent fee on subscriptions that signed up through the app, compared to the standard 30 percent that most developers must hand over.Read Article >
An email from Cue to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos lists the terms negotiated:
On Wednesday, lawmakers squared off with the chief executives of the tech industry’s four most powerful players: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Even though each company is under antitrust scrutiny for different reasons, the committee used this week’s hearing to point out similarities between all four, making the case for future regulatory reform.Read Article >
Since last June, lawmakers have been engaged in a sweeping antitrust investigation into the tech sector, honing in on how some of the most notable names in the industry have grown too big by allegedly stifling competition. Lawmakers have heard hundreds of hours of testimony and obtained over 1 million documents throughout their investigation, a process that made it difficult for CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to evade uncomfortable lines of questioning.
Jul 29, 2020
Amazon has long been accused of undercutting its rivals with its Echo smart speakers, allegedly keeping competitors like Sonos from getting a foothold in the market — but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that at their full retail price, the company isn’t taking a loss on these products.Read Article >
During the big antitrust hearing today where Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are also facing down lawmaker questions, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asked a pointed question about whether Amazon was pricing its Echo devices below cost. This is possibly referring to the theory of predatory pricing where a company tries to drive its rivals out of business by selling products at a loss, something Amazon specifically has been accused of, most notably with Diapers.com.
During Wednesday’s antitrust hearing, Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos came under fire by lawmakers over the company’s alleged use of third-party seller data in developing its own products.Read Article >
Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees have accessed sales data from independent sellers on its marketplace to help the company develop competing products for its private-label. Amazon has a policy barring the practice, but lawmakers like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) focused in on the company’s enforcement of that policy.
During Wednesday’s tech antitrust hearing, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) tore into Google CEO Sundar Pichai over the company’s dominance in search and its use of data to monitor would-be competitors.Read Article >
“It is Google’s business model that is the problem,” Cicilline said, alleging a pattern of anti-competitive behavior that allowed Google to grow while smaller businesses were crushed. “Our documents show that Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sites.”
In late February 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emailed his chief financial officer, David Ebersman, to float the idea of buying smaller competitors, including Instagram and Path. “These businesses are nascent but the networks established, the brands are already meaningful, and if they grow to a large scale the could be very disruptive to us,” he wrote. “Given that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we’re vulnerable in mobile, I’m curious if we should consider going after one or two of them. What do you think?”Read Article >
Ebersman was skeptical. “All the research I have seen is that most deals fail to create the value expected by the acquirer,” he wrote back. “I would ask you to find a compelling elucidation of what you are trying to accomplish.” Ebersman went on to list four potential reasons to buy companies and his thoughts on each: neutralizing a competitor, acquiring talent, integrating products to improve the Facebook service, and “other.”
Jul 29, 2020
The CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon testified in Congress today — trying to convince the House Judiciary Committee that their business practices don’t amount to anti-competitive monopolies. It’s one of the biggest tech oversight moments in recent years, part of a long-running antitrust investigation that has mustered hundreds of hours of interviews and over a million documents from the companies in question.Read Article >
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google / Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai all laid out their defense strategies in published testimony. They made the case that their companies are providing beneficial products in a landscape filled with competition and that their massive scale simply makes their services better.
Jul 29, 2020
Starting at 12PM ET on Wednesday, July 29th, the leaders of the tech industry are appearing before a congressional subcommittee to defend their business practices. Much of the run-up to the hearing has been centered on the unprecedented guest list, which includes CEOs from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. It will be the first time some of the men have appeared in front of Congress and by far the most significant hearing since the antitrust against Microsoft in the late ‘90s.Read Article >
The House Judiciary live-streams proceedings from the committee’s official YouTube page, and the same stream is available on the committee’s website. We’ve also embedded it in this post, so you’ll be able to watch from here.
Jul 29, 2020
Ahead of the antitrust hearing that’s due to take place later today, the opening statements from the CEOs of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook have been published on the House Judiciary Committee’s website. Ranging in length from four to eight pages, the statements give us our best look yet at how Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg plan to defend their companies from this latest wave of antitrust scrutiny, and accusations that some of their actions harm consumers and stifle competition.Read Article >
There are a lot of similarities between the four statements which you can read in their entirety here:
Jul 28, 2020
For decades, the tech industry has skirted scrutiny over mergers, acquisitions, and potential anti-competitive behavior as antitrust crusaders argued their case from the sidelines. But this week, the industry’s biggest companies will be forced to confront that evidence head-on.Read Article >
On July 29th, lawmakers are set to face the chief executives of the tech industry’s four most powerful players: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Since last June, House lawmakers have been engaged in a sweeping investigation into the tech sector, focusing on whether some of the most notable names in the industry have grown too big and powerful. Over the course of the last year, the antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee has led the investigation leading up to the final CEO showdown on Wednesday.