Tag: Break up

Now It’s Esquire’s Turn to Make the Case for Busting Up Big Tech. It’s Not Strong

 

The March issue of Esquire gives Scott Galloway, an NYU marketing professor, nearly 7,000 words to make his case for dismantling Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Galloway scare-quotes them as “the Four,” while the headline writer refers to them as “Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine.” (As a long-winded sobriquet, the latter really doesn’t have the oomph or stickiness as when Matt Taibbi famously referred to Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” But a solid effort, I guess.)

So what is Galloway’s argument? Patient readers must plow through nearly half the essay — though many lovely charts will aid the journey — to find out. Before getting to his casus belli against the SVTAJKSSM, Galloway first runs through a series of “valid concerns” to whet the appetite for antitrust destruction: The Four are really, really big. The Four are addictive. “Google is our modern day god.” The Four don’t pay enough taxes. The Four are destroying massive numbers of jobs. Government has surrendered before the Four like the POTUS before Zod in “Superman.”

All worrisome factors, but Galloway concedes that “none of them alone, or together, is enough to justify breaking up big tech.” So what is his justification if not the Four being a SVTAJKSSM? Well, I think it goes something like this: Inequality is rising. The middle-class is failing. Market forces are creating a “winner take all” economy and a society that is “bifurcating into those who are part of the innovation economy (lords) and those who aren’t (serfs).” And the Four are both a cumulative result and an accelerant of these forces through their monopoly-like, competition-squashing powers. Galloway:

Will Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon Be Forever Dominant?

 

President Donald Trump, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

I’m skeptical that Washington will break up Big Tech like it did Standard Oil or AT&T. Likewise, New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo also doubts such action is on the near horizon, or really governmental action of any kind. One difference is that Manjoo — who refers to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft as the “Frightful Five” — seems far closer than I am to being convinced strong action is necessary. From his lede: “The tech giants are too big. They’re getting bigger. We can stop them. But in all likelihood, we won’t.”