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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: An Rong Xu/Washington Post via Getty Images

Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan signaled changes are on the way in how the agency scrutinizes acquisitions after revealing the results of a study of a decade's worth of Big Tech company deals that weren't reported to the agency.

Why it matters: Tech's business ecosystem is built on giant companies buying up small startups, but the message from the antitrust agency this week could chill mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

What they found: The FTC reviewed 616 transactions valued at $1 million or more between 2010 and 2019 that were not reported to antitrust authorities by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

  • 94 of the transactions actually exceeded the dollar size threshold that would require companies to report a deal. The deals may have qualified for other regulatory exemptions.
  • 79% of transactions used deferred or contingent compensation to founders and key employees, and nearly 77% involved non-compete clauses.
  • 36% of the transactions involved assuming some amount of debt or liabilities.

What they're saying: In a statement, Khan said the report shows that loopholes may be "unjustifiably enabling deals to fly under the radar."

  • Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, said the high percentage of non-compete clauses was especially troubling.
  • "If nothing else, it's a clear anticompetitive intent to just take talent and prevent them from competing with you," Stoller said. "And there is a limited amount of tech talent."

The other side: Nothing in the report indicates that rules were broken or that the deals were anticompetitive, Neil Chilson, a former FTC adviser, pointed out.

  • "I think the message is pretty clear from the chair: She's suspicious of mergers, no matter what the size, just based on a belief that mergers at any size are suspect and should be reviewed," Chilson, now senior research fellow for Tech and Innovation at Stand Together, told Axios.
  • "The law certainly is not behind her on that, and I don't think the economics are particularly there either, and nothing in the report supports that assertion."

Go deeper

Charted: How Philly tech salaries compare

Expand chart
Data: Hired.com; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When stacked up against more than 15 major tech markets, Philly is in the bottom tier for tech salaries, according to a report released Tuesday from job search marketplace Hired.

  • Software engineer salaries in the city are comparable to general tech job salaries in other emerging tech hubs like Austin, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.