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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday it will review the past decade of takeovers by tech giants Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. Not only the large ones, but also the hundreds of smaller ones that didn't trigger automatic antitrust reviews.

Why it matters: Apparently the FTC thinks it has a technique for getting toothpaste back into the tube. And that's before one considers the knotty logistics of unwinding something like Facebook/Instagram or some random Google acqui-hire from 2015.

The big picture; Antitrust regulators typically get their way just by threatening to block a deal. But they've recently suffered two huge defeats when going after deep-pocketed tech defendants: DOJ on AT&T/Time Warner and state AGs on Sprint/T-Mobile. No pockets are deeper than the ones that FTC is now digging around in.

  • Worth noting: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) just proposed to remove the FTC's antitrust function altogether. And it's notable that this announcement wasn't made in concert with DOJ, which today happens to be holding an antitrust workshop at Stanford University.

The state of play: This is going to take a while. Maybe even into a new presidential administration.

  • We're talking about tons of small, niche acquisitions that involve people who may no longer be involved with the participating companies, let alone acquired products that have since been mothballed.
  • It could also involve possible re-reviews of mega-deals like Microsoft/LinkedIn, Amazon/Whole Foods, Google/Nest, Facebook/WhatsApp, Apple/Beats, and more.

The bottom line: This could become a massive headache for the five target companies, but more "take some aspirin and a nap" than "go to the ER."

  • Corporate M&A sources have consistently told me that Washington D.C. rhetoric isn't having too much impact on their acquisition activities, believing that the bark is much worse than the bite.

Go deeper: Small tech firms with Big Tech gripes

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

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