Big tech companies continue to make the news.
Giant tech companies are hiring massive numbers of antitrust legal talent from government agencies and law firms, making it more difficult for federal and state agencies to staff up their anti-trust initiatives.
Also, a federal judge threw out antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states. The judge rejected one of the federal government's core arguments, that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking, saying prosecutors had failed to provide enough facts to back up that claim.
This suggests that Congress will need to pass more comprehensive legislation to deal with the scope of 21st century realities of digital antitrust.
Onto Amazon. The company has been strong-arming vendors into giving Amazon warrants to purchase their stock. According to a Wall Street Journal article, the buys would come at a big discount, too. Amazon has struck at least a dozen deals with publicly traded companies, according to corporate filings and interviews by the Journal. The company, according to sources in the article, have done at least 75 deals with private companies.
These breathtakingly aggressive business practices on the part of Amazon are reminiscent of Microsoft in the 1990s, when it didn't so much violate individual anti-trust laws as much as they pretended they didn't exist, until the federal government interceded and Microsoft changed its competitive culture.
What are the takeaways here?
First, anti-trust concerns will increasingly become a bipartisan concern. The size and raw aggressiveness of the tech giants, combined with their willful lack of anti-trust consideration, will force action by state and federal legislatures, as well as entities like the European Union.
Also, anti-trust law will be rewritten to focus on harm to competitors and the overall health of the global economy, replacing the judicial standard of consumer harm and pricing of the past several decades.
We're at the beginning of the process. It will likely take as long as 20 years for effective legislation to be passed and implemented.
Isaac Cheifetz is a Twin Cities executive recruiter and strategic résumé consultant. Reach him through his website, catalytic1.com.