The one big thing each tech CEO will tell Congress
The big four tech CEOs testifying at Monday's antitrust hearing will each offer up a key point to defend their firms and deflect lawmakers' wrath.
Why it matters: No corporate leader wants to see their industry heavily regulated or their company broken up. Monday's hearing gives Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Sundar Pichai a big platform to try to prevent that from happening.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Congress should pass better laws. Let's work together and do that!
- Zuckerberg will likely argue that it's Congress's job to write laws to bolster election security and establish consistent nationwide online privacy standards.
- Facebook's goal is to see such laws written carefully and applied consistently.
- He'll also point to progress Facebook has made in cracking down on misinformation and hate speech.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai: We won search by doing it well — why punish us for that?
- Google doesn't dispute its clear dominance in search, nor of certain corners of the online advertising market.
- But it has long maintained in both cases that this is just a natural outgrowth of delivering value.
- It contends that digital advertising is in fact wildly competitive and that each individual advertising-technology service it offers faces a raft of rivals.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: We're big because we've always given users what they want — fast delivery, wide selection and good prices.
- Bezos is likely to point to Amazon's ability to get goods to Americans' homes during the pandemic as a public service.
- He will also need to defend the company against criticism of how it runs its third-party marketplace.
- In the past, Amazon has softened some of its marketplace terms and denied reports that it uses third-party sales data to develop its own competing products.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: Our App Store creates opportunity for countless developers — and Google's Android controls more of the smartphone market, anyway.
- Apple has faced criticism for the way it develops and features its own apps that compete with third-party programs, as well as for the commissions it takes from app makers.
- The company says its tightly controlled approach keeps iPhone apps safe, maintains their quality, and protects users' privacy.
- Expect Cook to cite the size and vitality of the app market and the continued enthusiasm of Apple's customers.
One wild card: China. All four companies have loudly or quietly warned that the U.S. shouldn't over-regulate its big tech firms because the nation needs them to be big and strong to counter threats from China.
- But China is also at the heart of Apple's supply chains and a key consumer market for the company.
- Google and Facebook have also flirted in the past with trying to crack the Chinese market.
Between the lines: Many of the loudest and most potent lines of attack on tech — like the idea, promoted by President Trump and other Republicans, that it's stifling conservatives — can be countered with facts, but they're too politically useful to simply be dropped.
The bottom line: The CEOs will get a chance Monday to rebut criticisms, argue that they're a net good for the nation, and tell lawmakers directly that antitrust enforcement is the wrong remedy for their ills.