Dec 30, 2022 - Technology

Biden antitrust chief Tim Wu to depart

Departing White House antitrust official Tim Wu holding a book on stage

Departing White House official and technology and legal scholar Tim Wu poses for a portrait with his book the Attention Merchants on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gary Leonard/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden's chief antitrust official Tim Wu is departing the White House, administration officials said Friday.

Why it matters: Two years into the Biden Administration, the White House is losing its most high-profile person working to break up Big Tech as it anticipates a newly divided Congress, where it will be even harder to pass ambitious competition laws.

Details: Wu, known for coining the term "net neutrality" and his book on breaking up Big Tech, "The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age," has been serving as Biden's special assistant for competition and technology policy for roughly a year and a half.

  • Per a White House official, Wu's last day will be Wednesday, Jan. 4. He will return to teaching at Columbia University.
  • Wu's last day was first reported by the New York Times and previously portended by Bloomberg and Politico.

What they're saying: "We had the rare opportunity in this Administration to try and steer the giant battleship of antitrust policy in a new direction," Wu said in a statement. "We got more done over the last two years than I would have ever imagined."

  • "In the last two years, the Federal government has moved to not only reverse decades of erosion in antitrust enforcement, but to reignite a great American tradition of Presidential leadership on competition policy, harkening to the era of Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt," Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said in a statement.

Be smart: Wu, along with Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan and Justice Department antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter, have been pushing policies to strictly reign in the country's biggest companies and stop consolidation that they argue leads to poorer consumer choices and experiences.

What's next: Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, will oversee competition and tech at the White House; Hannah Garden-Monheit, who was involved in a White House antitrust executive order, will take over antitrust policy work and Elizabeth Kelly of the National Economic Council will work on technology policy issues.

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