Bill Gates says today's tech CEOs are better prepared to handle antitrust issues

nanoguy

Posts: 585   +8
Staff member
In brief: Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates dealt with antitrust scrutiny in the 1990s when the Department of Justice sued the Redmond company and accused it of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. He believes today's tech executives have learned from his mistakes and are going to engage with regulators on the issues, which in theory should lead to a better outcome.

Back in July, the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee held a landmark hearing where regulators asked the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple a slew of hard questions about their business practices and, more specifically, how their behavior led to monopolistic power that Big Tech has been wielding against their smaller competitors for years.

Then this month, after over a year of analyzing 1.3+ million documents, interviews, and the answers from the hearing, lawmakers concluded that these tech companies had indeed accumulated too much power. They noted that while all of them had some positive impact on society, that came with too great a cost to the markets they're operating in. And while Democratic and Republican members of the antitrust subcommittee don't entirely agree on how to deal with it, they do suggest that a Big Tech will face a full "menu of potential changes" to current antitrust law.

This week during a CNBC interview, Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates weighed in on the matter, noting that he had been naive about the level of scrutiny that comes with your company getting too large and successful. Back in the 90s, the Redmond giant faced a similar set of challenges, and was dragged into a long legal battle with the Department of Justice for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

Gates says there's a high chance that regulators will craft new rules on how big tech companies can operate, but also believes their approach should take into account that Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon operate in various markets, each with their own set of specific issues.

However, Gates also said that CEOs of these companies have learnt from the past and are taking a different approach to dealing with regulators than he did at Microsoft. He noted the biggest mistake he made was not developing relationships in Washington and engaging with regulators, and explained that executives like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "have lots of people. Jeff even has a nice house in Washington, DC. They may even be making some other mistakes. But everybody saw what I did and knows better now."

Steve Ballmer, Gates successor after he stepped down in 1998, agrees wholeheartedly with that assessment.

He noted that "if I’m in these guys’ shoes, I say, come on, let’s get down there and let’s regulate me and let’s get it over with so I know what I can do." As for the regulators' idea that big tech companies should be broken up, he said he was willing to "bet money" that it won't happen, even if attempts could be made in the coming years.

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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,485   +5,992
While the Sherman Antitrust Act is a good start and served us well in it's day but now it is seriously dated and does not address today's high tech industries & services. It simply needs updating to include manipulation of markets through advertising and restrictive advertising, collection individuals personal data as a requirement to do business, selling of that data without the persons agreement and/or knowledge and many more.
 

Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
While the Sherman Antitrust Act is a good start and served us well in it's day but now it is seriously dated and does not address today's high tech industries & services.
Do you believe no legislation has been passed since the 1890 Sherman Act? You are forgetting Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which has the force of law, is updated by the FTC several times a year, and runs to several thousand pages. There are also a myriad of state anti-trust laws, which regularly change as well.
 

Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
Apple is playing the game way better than Microsoft did.
While I don't personally like Apple products, the fact is they're giving consumers what they want, and those consumers have a great deal of choice.

The 800-pound gorilla here is Google. Its customers have essentially no choice whatsoever: if you wish to buy online advertising, you deal with Google. Of the hundreds of antitrust cases in recent decades, I've argued against nearly all of them as unnecessary or counterproductive. I believe one against Google, though, is warranted.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 31   +8
Steve Jobs had went to a calligraphy art school and that's why today we have fonts.

Bill Gates had went to a law school and that's why today we have to sign EULAs to use the fonts :)
 
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p51d007

Posts: 2,518   +1,804
MS's biggest problem back then, was they didn't "play the game". No lobbying/lobbyist in DC.
Politicians don't like it if you do business to the level of MS, and not throw money at them to leave you
alone. Once they went after MS, MS started having lobbyist in DC. The politicians got their kickbacks,
and everything went back to normal. How else do you expect a politician to become a millionaire,
on less than $200,000 per year salary. ;)
 
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drjekelmrhyde

Posts: 364   +127
MS's biggest problem back then, was they didn't "play the game". No lobbying/lobbyist in DC.
Politicians don't like it if you do business to the level of MS, and not throw money at them to leave you
alone. Once they went after MS, MS started having lobbyist in DC. The politicians got their kickbacks,
and everything went back to normal. How else do you expect a politician to become a millionaire,
on less than $200,000 per year salary. ;)
Bingo. Tech companies are still infants when it come to lobbying even after what happen to Microsoft. The telcos and cablecos are harden vets in lobbying after MaBell. Tech companies didn't realize this till Google decided to dig fiber, and met up with the cablecos and telcos, army of paid politicians.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
Bingo. Tech companies are still infants when it come to lobbying even after what happen to Microsoft. The telcos and cablecos are harden vets in lobbying...
The #1 corporate spender on lobbying since 2017 is Google. Facebook and Amazon are high in the top 20 also. Tech stopped being an infant long ago.
 

Nestea

Posts: 45   +14
Gtfo mongrel. I've read so many ppl admiring this guy (slashdot et al, that he's able to memorize books and reads one each week). he's just had the balls and backing from his parents to go full brat and autism. now that he's on top he has no problem pulling up the ladder. 64 years and hasn't changed.
many MS employees wanted to "invest" in the internet. Bill's response? Let's wait and see what the competition does. then **** his pants and went full-brat.
nothingburger story really
 

Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
I would point out that blind belief in a report produced by politicians is quite naive -- but the quoted portion is indeed accurate. It states Apple has control over iOS software distribution, I.e. it has a monopoly on its own products. That's true for nearly every company, and is a very good thing in general. What Apple does not have is monopoly power over any industry.
 
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MSIGamer

Posts: 35   +39
As a customer I can't choose where I buy my apps. As an app developer I can't chose anything but to accept all of Apple's tyrannous rules, including not giving my customers a choice whether to buy products on a discount through my own service or through the App Store.
My own experience validates the claims that others have thoroughly researched.
And I always place more trust in official investigations than a company's own claims.
 

Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
As an app developer I can't chose anything but to accept all of Apple's tyrannous rules, including not giving my customers a choice whether to buy products on a discount through my own service or through the App Store.
Why do you feel you have some sort of God-given right to not only force Apple to distribute your apps on their platform, but to distribute them on your own terms? Do you complain because Ford won't distribute your floor mats with every new car, and give you all the profits thereof? Do you complain because this website won't host your applets free of charge?

What's even more ironic is that Apple, by providing 100% of the distribution, sales, and billing, and half the marketing for these apps for a 30% cut, is doing so far cheaper than all but the largest of developers could do so on their own. If Apple did allow you the option to distribute your apps yourself,, you'd certainly remain with them anyway, as its the cheaper, superior alternative.

I always place more trust in official investigations than a company's own claims.
Especially when they tell you what you wish to hear, eh?
 
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MSIGamer

Posts: 35   +39
Only the companies tell me what I want to hear, because they want to make money off of me, I inherently distrust marketing talk. The government and independent experts don't work for Apple. I trust those, especially when verified by multiple sources. But hey, I'm educated. Many others don't know what to believe anymore with all the fake news being spread around.

I complain because of anti competitive practices that are way worse than Microsoft's and Google's. Apple doesn't permit anything that could potentially make them lose money to a competitor. It's bad for the customer. They have extremely strict rules that you HAVE to follow. There is no discussion possible. Full time jobs are being devoted to complying with Apple's rules. Time that could be spent working on making your app better. I don't have to do any of this bs with Microsoft or Google, so in the end the customer ends up with a worse app on iOS, because so much time was lost in Apple's development pipeline. It's bad for innovation and it ultimately convinced me I never want to be an Apple developer again.

To me they are just money grabbing addicts that gained too much power, they run a dictatorship and if you don't abide by their rules they just let you die. That's my opinion and experience. There are many other people that just abandon all ethics and willfully fund these practices, because hey, an iPad is great right? I choose not to be such a person. To each his own.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
I complain because of anti competitive practices that are way worse than Microsoft's and Google's.
Had you read the report you linked, you'd think otherwise. Google has a 91% market share in mobile. Apple's share is 48%. Apple's competitors are numerous and well known. But I bet you can't even name a Google competitor for mobile ad sales ... not without using (yes, you guessed it) Google. More importantly, Apple's competitors are wholly independent. Google's competitors actively depend on Google itself.

Google's share of mobile is far above what federal courts have adjudged a monopoly. A share as small as Apple's has never before been judged monopolistic. Step outside mobile to desktop and Google's market share remains a monopolistic 84%. Apple drops to 13%. The report you linked devoted twice as many pages to Google as to Apple. Some highlights:

"Google abused its gatekeeper power over online search to coerce vertical websites to surrender valuable data and to leverage its search dominance into adjacent markets...Google used its search engine dominance and control over the Android operating system to grow its share of the web browser market and favor its other lines of business..."

The report also states that Google deceives consumers by blurring the distinction between organic search results and paid ones. Google actively promotes itself to the top of these results, and algorithmically penalizes competitors. It states that Google uses data collected from both Android and Chrome for use in its other areas of business:

“Most critically, Chrome serves as a way for Google to control the entry points for its core markets: online search and online advertising"

Contrasted to all this, Apple maintains an exclusive store for its own iOS apps, and charges a 30% cut for all sales therein ... exactly what Google Play charges. If you don't like Apple's iOS, you can use Android, Tizen, UBuntu, etc. If you don't like Google ads -- you still use Google. No alternative ... as the very report you laud so highly points out.

There are many other people that just abandon all ethics and willfully fund these practices, because hey, an iPad is great right? I choose not to be such a person.
A true Social Justice Warrior. Stand tall!
 
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Ryan Barrett

Posts: 38   +10
While the Sherman Antitrust Act is a good start and served us well in it's day but now it is seriously dated and does not address today's high tech industries & services. It simply needs updating to include manipulation of markets through advertising and restrictive advertising, collection individuals personal data as a requirement to do business, selling of that data without the persons agreement and/or knowledge and many more.
This absolutely needs to apply to ISPs, some of the biggest crooks in all of tech. With Data caps, double dipping because of net-neutrality being repealed andif you live in a rural area, you're ****ed, paying the same for dial up that we pay for 100 Mbps broadband. Honestly it should be regulated like any utility. It's just as necessary as electricity and water at this point.