In a recent interview, Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates expressed his views regarding the ongoing antitrust investigations against tech giants. He believes that it’s better to ban certain practices and let the companies know which behaviors aren’t allowed instead of breaking them up.
The Redmond giant’s co-founder hints that splitting up a company can, in fact, exacerbate the problem. He says that it will only result in two entities engaging in harmful behavior and isn’t really an ideal solution.
Bill Gates Doesn’t Think Tech Giants Are Doing Anything Illegal
Bill Gates doesn’t vehemently oppose breaking up companies. However, he thinks this solution only applies to a narrow set of things. It’s worth remembering that back in the 90s, Microsoft itself came under scrutiny for stifling competition.
The U.S. government accused it of maintaining a monopoly position by making its nearly impossible for users to go for Internet Explorer alternatives. Although the company was not broken up, an agreement was reached with the Department of Justice which critics allege did little to curb its anti-competitive practices.
Bill Gates certainly doesn’t agree. He believes that the whole saga had made the company more thoughtful about its business practices. Microsoft is currently the most valuable company by market capitalization, sitting above Apple, and Amazon.
It has also managed to stay out of trouble as government agencies are not currently investigating it. As for the companies that are under scrutiny, such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, the business magnate says that it’s natural for the government to be suspicious, given the size of these companies.
That is not to say that he thinks these firms are up to something. He thinks these are all well-meaning, innovative companies that are doing totally legal things. To rein them in, he has proposed a rather vague solution where the society as a whole will try to make sure that there are no negative side effects of the power these firms have.
Splitting Up Companies Can Be Pretty Hard
The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are currently looking into the various practices of Big Tech to determine if they abused their market power or harmed consumers in any way.
Apparently, the DoJ is looking into Apple and Google, and FTC has been assigned Facebook and Amazon. However, according to FTC’s Chairman Joe Simons, the investigation is being done on the basis of conduct.
Either way, multiple probes can mean greater trouble for tech companies. That being said, FTC and DoJ are currently said to be having some disagreements and this will only benefit the companies being probed.
There are pretty strong pieces of evidence against the abusive practices of technology bigwigs. For instance, products that are the most beneficial to Amazon are featured more prominently, per a report. Similarly, Apple allegedly keeps its own apps on the top on its App Store.
Splitting up companies can be a messy business. Moreover, the tech giants will likely argue that undoing past mergers will affect their operations. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of these investigations will be.