Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big companies living under the shadow of looming antitrust investigations typically tread warily, careful not to give regulators too many ideas — but judging by this week's corporate announcements, Big Tech isn't using that playbook.

What's happening: Despite reports that regulators are interested in probing Big Tech's behavior, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple charged ahead this week with acquisitions, software integrations and other grand new programs.

  • Google's Cloud division announced Thursday plans to acquire data analytics firm Looker for $2.6 billion.
  • Apple this week unveiled "Sign In with Apple" and is requiring iOS app developers that offer Google, Facebook or any third-party authentication to also offer its own single sign-in option.
  • Jeff Bezos said at a Las Vegas conference that Amazon plans to make even bigger bets on new business ventures, Wired reports, including its satellite internet project and plans for package-delivery drones.
  • Facebook is pushing ahead with its cryptocurrency plans, courting outside backers to help build trust in its digital payments platform, The Information reports.

Why it matters: In any normal week, these moves wouldn't be out of the ordinary. But coming mere days after the announcement of a bipartisan congressional antitrust investigation and reports of new regulator scrutiny, they raise questions about how seriously the companies take that prospect.

The big picture: Google Cloud is a third-place competitor to Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure in the cloud market, and it's very likely this acquisition was in the works long before the antitrust rumblings in Washington.

  • Likewise, Apple has long been positioning itself as a privacy-friendly alternative, while Amazon's investment in satellites and drones isn't new.
  • And Facebook sees an enormous opportunity to seamlessly bundle mobile payments into social media apps.

Yes, but: Right now, those optics aren't ideal. Just as regulators are paying closer attention to charges of anticompetitive conduct that helped these companies amass significant market leverage in the first place, the companies are touting their market power or ambitions to scale their businesses even more.

  • The other side: All four tech giants have rebutted charges of monopolistic behavior in the past. And for companies of their size, this week's announcements are probably considered non-controversial.

Between the lines: "In an environment where antitrust agencies are paying close attention to you, you want to be careful, so it's interesting that we're seeing these moves," said Charlotte Slaiman, policy counsel at Public Knowledge and former staffer in the FTC's Anticompetitive Practices Division.

  • It's a key time for the DoJ and FTC, she said, in that news reports haven't indicated the specific scope they're interested in investigating.
  • As a federal staffer, "once you're in the investigation, you're pretty focused on the conduct you've identified, which is backward looking," she said, adding it appears the agencies haven't yet reached that point.
  • "When you're looking around broadly at what to investigate, then you'd be very closely attuned to the news. If the news stories coming out are related to the conduct you're already interested in, that will pique the interest on the inside even more."

Go deeper: D.C. antitrust fight takes Big Tech by surprise

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.