Amid a global crisis for Big Tech, the world's most powerful companies have been delighted to step over — and onto — the bodies of their brethren to score points with the public.
- Axios' Erica Pandey and David McCabe write: Apple CEO Tim Cook has seemed to gleefully pile on as Facebook faces increasing government and public scorn for exposing its users through data breaches.
- "We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers, if our customers were our product. We’ve elected not to do that. … We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” a scolding Cook said in April.
Driving the news: Now both Apple and Google are capitalizing on Amazon's public flogging for raking in billions in tax breaks for its big new corporate headquarters. In fresh announcements this week, Apple and Google are highlighting their ostensibly non-greedy approaches to expansions of their own, carried out with minimal or no tax breaks.
"2018 is the year Apple consciously uncoupled from Big Tech," Scott Galloway, an NYU professor and author of "The Four," tells Axios. "Apple's PR/strategic comms department has taken Facebook's PR group behind the gym and beaten the crap out of them."
The big picture: What’s ailing Jeff Bezos’ superstar company is a bottom-top uprising that's gaining strength. The trouble has been triggered by the results of Amazon's recently ended, year-long search for the site of a second headquarters. It chose Queens, New York, and Arlington, Virginia, for up to 25,000 new jobs each. Queens ponied up $1.5 billion in incentives, and Arlington $600 million. Amazon also announced a new 5,000-person satellite office in Nashville.
Meanwhile, Apple and Google announced moves to Austin and New York, respectively — with no backlash. And, while Amazon geared up for intense hearings with New York's city council on tax breaks, Google gave away 1,000 Thanksgiving turkeys to the needy.
- Activists in all three Amazon locales have protested the decision.
- "One of the things that the majority of people who ran for local office ran on is transparency, but then we woke up one day to find out that Amazon is coming to town,” said Odessa Kelly, an organizer in Nashville.
- "This backlash is serious," said Nate Jensen, a professor at UT Austin. "We haven't seen this kind of resistance at the grassroots."
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said, "We expect our new headquarters to generate more than $20 billion in new tax revenues for community improvements and the people of New York."