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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Google's $2.1 billion deal for Fitbit might go down as the only merger to qualify as both pre-pandemic and post-pandemic.

  • Driving the news: European Union antitrust regulators have again extended their decision deadline, this time to Jan. 8, 2021. And it could be further complicated by U.S. authorities, who are drawing up a broader antitrust case against Google and/or its parent company Alphabet. The deal was originally announced on Nov. 1, 2019.

The delay is about data: Google has always said the acquisition is centered on devices, but that alone hasn't allayed regulator fears over what happens to the information those devices collect.

  • Reuters reports that Google recently offered concessions to the European Commission: It would "restrict the use of Fitbit data for Google ads, facilitate rival makers of wearables seeking to connect to the Android platform and allow third parties’ continued access to Fitbit users’ data with their consent."
  • These revisions appear to have satisfied the EC, but that could change once analyzed by outside critics. Plus, again, there are those pesky Americans.

Were regulators to block the deal, in Europe or the U.S., Google would be required to pay Fitbit $250 million.

Meanwhile: Fitbit continues to hemorrhage market share.

  • IDC reports that Fitbit's piece of the overall wearables market fell nearly 30% between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020, from 4.6% to 2.9%, while its share of the wrist-worn wearables market fell by a similar percentage, from 9.8% to 7.3%.
  • Fitbit stock has spent most of 2020 trading below $7 per share, even though Google's deal would value it at $7.35 per share in cash.

The bottom line: This isn't the world's largest or most consequential tech merger of the past 12 months, but it is the most fraught.

Go deeper

Alphabet workers announce a union

Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

A group of more than 200 employees at Google's parent company announced on Monday that they've signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America, forming the Alphabet Workers Union.

Why it matters: This is the largest and most high-profile unionization effort among tech workers to date. The tech industry has historically eschewed unions, unlike other sectors like the auto industry.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State Departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

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