Big Tech CEOs to defend their companies before US Congress by listing competitors

Big Tech CEOs to defend their companies before US Congress by listing competitors

FILE PHOTO: Facebook Chairman and CEO Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee
FILE PHOTO: Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

WASHINGTON: The chief executives of four of the world's largest tech companies –Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google – plan to argue in a congressional hearing on antitrust on Wednesday (Jul 29) that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals.

The testimony from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook, which was released on Tuesday, portrays four chief executives who are looking over their shoulders at competitors who could render them obsolete.

Pichai argues that search – which Google dominates by most metrics – is broader than just typing a query into Google, and says he remains concerned about being relevant as people turn to Twitter, Pinterest or other websites for information.

"We know Google's continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving," Pichai says in the prepared remarks.

The four CEOs will testify to a panel of lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance, or expand.

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In his remarks, Bezos says Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers such as Walmart, which is twice its size. He also said the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.

Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on its third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers.

In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg argues that Facebook became successful the American way, by starting out with nothing and providing products that people find valuable.

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"We compete against the companies appearing at this hearing, plus many others that sell advertising and connect people. We also compete globally, including against companies that have access to markets that we aren't in."

Zuckerberg will also defend Facebook's acquisitions by saying the social media platform helped companies such as WhatsApp and Instagram grow. Both are owned by Facebook.

He will also remind lawmakers of the competitive threat US tech companies face from China, saying that China is building its "own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries".

Zuckerberg also renews Facebook's call for government regulation. He has previously called for more laws in areas where the company has been criticised – such as harmful content in social media, election integrity and privacy.

READ: Commentary: Apple has a battle with regulators and unhappy developers

Apple's Tim Cook will tell the committee the company "does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business. That is not just true for iPhone, it is true for any product category".

He will argue the company's "commissions are comparable to or lower than commissions charged by the majority of our competitors. And they are vastly lower than the 50 to 70 per cent that software developers paid to distribute their work before we launched the App Store".

Source: Reuters/nh/aj