Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon CEOs Face Congress Tomorrow for Antitrust Probe
Big tech CEOs will finally be facing the Congress on 29th July Wednesday in a hearing before the U.S. House Committee. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon's CEOs will testify before the congress on antitrust issues, amongst other things.
This will be a historic event as Apple's Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg, Google's Sundar Pichai, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos will attempt to defend their huge organizations in a public hearing. These CEOs will be answering to the Congress on questions related to their alleged anticompetitive business practices. The combined worth of the companies that these CEOs represent is around $4.7 trillion, while each of these CEOs is at least a billionaire, with Jeff Bezos's net worth more than $180 billion.
The hearing will be an interesting event as the last time Facebook and Google's CEOs faced Congress, it resulted in some humorous moments which showed the lack of knowledge of the lawmakers regarding the companies these executives represented.
The opening statements by all the 4 CEOs are now available on the U.S. House Committee On The Judiciary website. Here are some interesting snippets from the various statements by these public figures:
Apple's Tim Cook
Tim Cook talks about the iPhone and App Store in his statement and how Apple is a uniquely American company. He goes into detail about how the company only makes products that they could recommend to their family and friends. He also refers to the fierce competition in the smartphone market from the likes of Samsung, LG, Huawei, and Google to prove his point that Apple does not hold a dominant position in any market that it competes in. He also shares some interesting statistics about how the App Store is responsible for 1.9 million American jobs in all 50 states, and that it helped facilitate half a trillion dollars of e-commerce worldwide. He also explains that most of the app developers get to keep 100% of their revenue, while others that have to pay 15% or 30% commission to Apple get to pay much less than what they had to before App Store was launched.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg
Mark Zuckerburg's opening statement dives deep into the company's American values, history of innovation, the usage of its platform for the social good, its social responsibility, and role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark's statement even puts into focus America vs China to put his point across.
Although people around the world use our products, Facebook is a proudly American company. 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. As Congress and other stakeholders consider how antitrust laws support competition in the U.S., I believe it’s important to maintain the core values of openness and fairness that have made America’s digital economy a force for empowerment and opportunity here and around the world.
Mark's statement talks about competition, but not when he talks about WhatsApp and Instagram, both of which are dominant players in their markets, along with Facebook.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos
Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos will be facing the congress for the first time ever, compared to other CEOs who have done this before. Bezos' opening statement starts off with his personal history before talking about competition from the likes of Walmart, Amazon's market share of the global retail market, and new competitors in the industry.
The global retail market we compete in is strikingly large and extraordinarily competitive. Amazon accounts for less than 1% of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4% of retail in the U.S. Unlike industries that are winner-take-all, there’s room in retail for many winners. For example, more than 80 retailers in the U.S. alone earn over $1 billion in annual revenue. Like any retailer, we know that the success of our store depends entirely on customers’ satisfaction with their experience in our store. Every day, Amazon competes against large, established players like Target, Costco, Kroger, and, of course, Walmart—a company more than 5 twice Amazon’s size. And while we have always focused on producing a great customer experience for retail sales done primarily online, sales initiated online are now an even larger growth area for other stores. Walmart’s online sales grew 74% in the first quarter. And customers are increasingly flocking to services invented by other stores that Amazon still can’t match at the scale of other large companies, like curbside pickup and in-store returns. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on these trends, which have been growing for years. In recent months, curbside pickup of online orders has increased over 200%, in part due to COVID19 concerns. We also face new competition from the likes of Shopify and Instacart—companies that enable traditionally physical stores to put up a full online store almost instantaneously and to deliver products directly to customers in new and innovative ways—and a growing list of omnichannel business models.
According to Bezos, Amazon has invested $270 billion in the United States over the past decade and created 2.2 million jobs around the world. 1.7 million small and medium-sized businesses rely on Amazon to earn money.
Alphabet's Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai's opening statement talks about the company's innovative products over the years including Chrome, Android, G Suite, YouTube, Maps, and more. He makes an important point that Google's free, but ad-supported services, provide value to Americans worth thousands of dollars every year.
Regarding competition, he mentions the ever-changing landscape:
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.
Sundar also talks about how search has a lot more competition than ever before.
For example, people have more ways to search for information than ever before — and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine. Often the answer is just a click or an app away: You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest. When searching for products online, you may be visiting Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or any one of a number of e-commerce providers, where most online shopping queries happen. Similarly, in areas like travel and real estate, Google faces strong competition for search queries from many businesses that are experts in these areas.
There will be a live stream on YouTube (player embedded below) for the historical hearing. Make sure to tune in at 12PM ET.