Secret documents from US antitrust probe reveal big tech’s plot to control or crush the competition

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Almost 500 pages of evidence were published during the marathon hearing by House Judiciary this week on possible anti-competitive measures by Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple . We have collected them here with additional context and an omnibus, searchable version For those who prefer not to juggle four dozen documents. "data-reactid =" 12 "> Almost 500 pages of evidence were released during the marathon hearing of the House Justice this week about possible anti-competitive measures from Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple . We have collected them here with additional context and an omnibus, searchable version for those who prefer not to juggle four dozen documents.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "The e-mails, chat protocols and others listed here Messages tricked online as the hearings continued. Many are internal documents that should never be made publicly available. For example, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg told a colleague that "we can probably only ever buy competitive startups" shortly before we bought Instagram in 2012. "Data-reactid =" 13 "> The emails, chat logs and other messages listed here tricked online as the hearings continued. Many are internal documents that should never be made publicly available. For example, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg told a colleague that "we can probably only ever buy competitive startups" shortly before we bought Instagram in 2012.

Congress investigators have considerable powers to force such documents to be published, even against the will of companies that journalists would almost certainly never provide such self-incriminating information. Therefore, these documents contain all sorts of useful information, most of which provide insight into the otherwise obscure thinking of leaders when their companies make important decisions about their company's growth – and provide pointers to strategies traditionally used by monopolies.

While there is nothing that can be called a smoking weapon, this is not the only evidence the investigation has gathered, but only what is required to publish this hearing. Legislators spoke of other documents, as well as interviews and statements that confirmed their claims or contradicted company reports on events.

Although there are too many documents to discuss individually, we found some interesting exchanges that we found in the files for each company. A combined, searchable mega file of the internal documents can be found at the end of this article. It's not in any particular order, so it's best to look for key terms, metrics, and company names.

Amazon

<p class = "Artboard-Atom Artboard-Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee "data-reactid =" 26 ">Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee

The documents contain internal communications regarding the persecution and eventual purchase of Diapers.com by Amazon, which were also discussed in the hearing itself. Aggressive price cuts by the former forced the latter out of business so that they could be snapped up and integrated. In one document, we see Amazon discussing the establishment of special automatic pricing rules that more aggressively undercut Diapers.com prices than other diaper and toy suppliers.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Another document shows that Amazon lost near has $ 200 million in a single quarter over that period, showing that it was willing to accept losses to an extent that the smaller company couldn't stand – a classic monopolistic tactic that only works if you have one dominate a large part of a market, and Scanlon (D-PA) has urged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to do so at about the 2 hour 15 minute mark. "data-reactid =" 28 "> Another document shows that Amazon lost nearly $ 200 million in one quarter in that period, indicating that it was willing to take on losses to an extent that the smaller company might not be able to withstand – a classic monopolistic tactic that is only possible if you dominate a huge part of a market. Rep. Scanlon (D-PA) has urged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to do so at about the 2 hour 15 minute mark.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Jeff Bezos, inspired by a TechCrunch contribution, asks for the next game from Diapers.com, Soap.com, and gets a summary of the existing plan that "undercuts diapers.com's core diaper business" and "slows down the launch of soap.com". "" This email shows how Amazon has confirmed that it has positioned itself as a "global point of sale", especially for manufacturers from China who want direct access to American consumers. A deck with Diapers.com metrics mentions "Predatory Pricing" and Amazon as very specific threats to their short and long term plans. "Data-reactid =" 29 "> Jeff Bezos, inspired by a TechCrunch contribution, asks for the next game from Diapers.com, Soap.com, and gets a summary of the existing plan that "undercuts diapers.com's core diaper business" and "slows down the launch of soap.com". "" This email shows how Amazon has confirmed that it has positioned itself as a "global point of sale", especially for manufacturers from China who want direct access to American consumers. A deck with Diapers.com metrics mentions "Predatory Pricing" and Amazon as a very specific threat to their short and long term plans.

Regarding Amazon's purchase of Ring, which may have turned out to be a smart home competitor, this document shows how management speaks about "being ready to pay for the market position as it is difficult for the leader catch". Another email provides more context to Amazon's thoughts about taking over Ring (then known as Project Darwin) before it went through. Bezos says in this exchange: "We buy market position – not technology. And this market position and dynamism are very valuable."

Bezos cannot guarantee anticompetitive activity because Congress is flabbergasting him

Facebook

<p class = "Artboard-Atom Artboard-Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee "data-reactid =" 47 ">Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee

In an email exchange in March 2012, a month before Facebook announced the purchase of Instagram, Zuckerberg had a conversation about China's "strong culture of fast cloning".

In the original conversation sent to Facebook product manager Chris Cox and CTO Mike Schroepfer, a senior Facebook employee describes how they met with the founders of the Chinese company RenRen, who described how their own company described apps how Voxer and Pinterest copied. The author comments that it is easier for these companies to get products out quickly "because they copy other people" and suggests how a similar strategy for Facebook could work. Zuckerberg forwards the email to Sheryl Sandberg and comments: "You will probably find this interesting and agree."

Another set of documents captures Mark Zuckerberg's private advertising for Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. Significantly, a side-to-side conversation between Systrom and a former Facebook product vice president shows that the Instagram creator was concerned that Zuckerberg would go into "destruction mode" if Systrom did not agree to sell. There is also more insight into how Facebook saw the Instagram deal and how the company decided to keep it as a separate product.

The Facebook documents also include some talks about the WhatsApp acquisition, nicknamed "Project Cobalt," including minutes of a board meeting four days before Facebook announced the acquisition plans. "Ms. Sandberg emphasized that the high concentration of the market for mobile operating systems – two providers serve the vast majority of smartphone users worldwide – represents a significant strategic threat to the business of (Facebook) …", says the protocol.

In an antitrust hearing, Zuckerberg admits that Facebook has copied its competition

Apple

<p class = "Artboard-Atom Artboard-Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee "data-reactid =" 65 ">Credit: Screenshot of the House Judiciary Committee

<p class = "Screen-Atom Screen-Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Apple is not as well known for crushing competitors as the others three companies, but it certainly likes to take revenue from their software partners while keeping a firm grip on both hardware and software, and many of the documents focus on Apple’s internal strategies that respond to criticism of issues like this Controversy over the right to repair and developers who are dissatisfied with the obsessive control that Apple has over its products. "data-reactid =" 66 "> Apple is not as well known for annihilating competitors as the other three companies, but it certainly does like getting revenue out of it. Many of the documents focus on Apple's internal strategies of criticizing issues how to react to that Controversy over the right to repair and developers who are dissatisfied with the obsessive control that Apple has over its products.

The Apple documents also detail how the app store creator treats commissions for some companies. In the emails from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple SVP Eddy Cue in 2016, Apple appears to have signed a special contract for the Amazon Prime Video app for iOS and Apple TV.

An email exchange in 2011 also describes how Apple considered increasing the commission for subscription apps to 40% in the first year. "I think we might leave money on the table if we only ask for 30% of the first year of the subway," wrote Cue. This did not happen, but the correspondence provides insight into some questions about setting your own rules, to which the company had no real answer at the hearing.

The commission structure of the Apple App Store was questioned at the antitrust hearing

Google

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<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "In a confidential internal presentation from 2006, Google raises an alarm about the "orthogonal threat" that social networks and other websites with "high entertainment value" like YouTube. "data-reactid =" 82 "> In a confidential internal presentation from 2006 Google raises an alarm about the "orthogonal threat" that social networks and other websites with "high entertainment value" like YouTube.

"… The team believed that these social networking sites would ultimately pose a threat to our search business as users spend more time on these sites and ultimately do most of the searching using the search fields available there. They are not direct Competitors, but they can crowd us out in the end-user time compromise. "

The presentation further argues that Google should "have the search box on the entertainment sites" and develop its own social networking solution so that these sites do not win. In the same year, Google announced the acquisition of YouTube.

Other email chains from the same period capture Google’s internal thinking before buying YouTube.

"The value of YouTube for us would be an intelligent team and a platform we could build on (maybe enough to justify an acquisition alone), but we could really get their community as soon as we start reviewing copyrights or inappropriate content and retrieve? " If anything, this is likely to cast a bad light on Google, "wrote Product Hunter Walk's then director of Google at an interesting moment, anticipating Google’s current issues with content moderation.

After Google closed a $ 200 million deal for the company and turned YouTube upside down, Google finally bought the now ubiquitous video sharing platform for $ 1.65 billion.

Google's Sundar Pichai grilled about "destroying anonymity on the Internet"

You can read and search the documents here:

<p class = "Artboard-Atom Artboard-Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Subcommittee on Antitrust Law … by TechCrunch on Scribd "data-reactid =" 92 ">Subcommittee on Antitrust Law … by TechCrunch on Scribd



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