Why it matters: Gates is no stranger to antitrust regulators, having publicly gone against the US government during his time at Microsoft in a highly publicized antitrust case in the late 90s. That experience makes what he has to say all the more interesting.
Bill Gates in a recent interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzke weighs in on the government’s recent probe into the practices of big technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
In a nutshell, Gates said that if a company is behaving badly, the best course of action would be to address the matter directly. “You should just say, okay, that’s a banned behavior.” Splitting a company into two and having two entities doing a bad thing doesn’t seem like a solution, he said.
Gates added that there is a pretty narrow list of things in which a breakup is the right answer to.
Touching on another sensitive topic, taxes, Gates said companies are behaving totally legally and doing a lot of innovative things with regard to how they structure themselves for the purpose of tax breaks. “People should look if they want to change that going forward, that’s the real question.”
As for social media, Gates said nobody had a crystal ball and could have known that these platforms would radicalize people or split them into different groups. “What the solution should be – you know, have us reading a common front page and not being pulled to extremes,” isn’t necessarily the responsibility of tech companies. “Government really needs to talk about what those rules should be,” he said.
Instead, “it’s up to society to make sure [that the innovation of big tech companies] don’t have negative side effects.”
Masthead credit: Bill Gates by Frederic Legrand - COMEO