Tech CEOs To Face Tough Questions About Stifled Competition

Mark Zuckerberg April 11 2018 Energy Commerce Hearing Screenshot 2

CEOs at four US tech companies will face questions about whether or not they actively stifle competition on Wednesday. That's according to recent reports citing statements from members of the US Judiciary Committee slated to question the executives.

The congressional hearing is at the center of an ongoing antitrust probe, involving Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The probe intends to hear from the executives to determine whether or not the strategies they employ are anticompetitive. Specifically, according to statements attributed to Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal, to determine if "copy-acquire-kill" strategies are being employed.

The questions, Ms. Jayapal indicates, will center on that term in the context of tech CEOs use their clout to "buy or suppress" potential rivals. Ms. Jayapal suggests that documents obtained by lawmakers suggest that just such strategies are in use. In fact, the lawmaker says that "very specific language from top-level executives" points directly to those types of strategies.


What are copy-acquire-kill strategies?

As noted above, "copy-acquire-kill" strategies are relatively straightforward, with the term being fairly descriptive of the practice. Summarily, it refers to efforts by the tech companies facing questions, pushed by the CEOs, to either copy, acquire, or otherwise kill off the competition. And there are some real-world examples that could be used, apparently perpetrated by the CEOs in question.

Facebook may provide the most prominent example since the company has been quick to buy up competitors in the social media space. Most notably, that includes Instagram and WhatsApp.

But the company has also worked to release new products or introduce features that mirror the competition. The company, for example, has introduced features that are very similar to Snapchat's into its own services. And so has Google, for that matter. In both cases, that's with the introduction of "Stories" features. Facebook has also made many attempts to replicate competing apps just as they become popular.


When will the tech CEOs face these questions?

Now, it isn't immediately clear whether those are the strategies that will be questioned specifically since Ms. Jayapal was not specific about that point. But the hearing, set to include Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google CEOs Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sundar Pichai, will take place on Wednesday. That's if no further delays take place.

None of the CEOs will appear in person due to the ongoing global health crisis still impacting the US. Instead, at 12 pm, they're scheduled to appear remotely.