Prior to the antitrust hearing that will take place later today, the opening statements of the CEOs of Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook have been published on the Website of the House Judiciary Committee. The statements range in length from four to eight pages and give us the best look yet of how Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg intend to protect their companies from this latest wave of antitrust investigations and allegations that some of their actions harm consumers and stifle competition.
There are many similarities between the four statements that you can read in their entirety here:
For example, they all appeal to American patriotism (“The rest of the world would love even the slightest sip of the elixir we have here in the US,” Bezos claims), and talk about the benefits their products have for consumers, as well as small businesses. All four maintain that, contrary to popular belief, they are actually facing stiff competition and their success is far from guaranteed.
These are the main arguments that CEOs make in their opening statements:
All: we face fierce competition
One of the main points that makes every CEO elaborate is how much competition they have, despite their apparent dominance. For example, Jeff Bezos points out that Amazon’s company represents less than 4 percent of the total retail market in the United States and that it is increasingly facing competition from more established competitors such as Walmart and Target, which offer services Amazon cannot compete with can with.
“Walmart online sales grew 74% in the first quarter. And customers are increasingly flocking to services invented by other stores that Amazon still can’t match the scale of other big companies like curbside pickup and in-store returns. ”
Here’s Apple’s Tim Cook, who talks about the competition Android manufacturers face:
“The smartphone market is extremely competitive and companies such as Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google have built very successful smartphone companies with different approaches.
Apple does not have a dominant market share in any of the markets where we do business. This does not only apply to the iPhone; it applies to any product category. ”
Sundar Pichai’s defense of the competition that Google faces is particularly interesting, given the monopoly commonly held in online search.
“People can search for information in more ways than ever before – and this is increasingly happening outside the context of a search engine alone. Often the answer is just a click or an app away: you can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and receive recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest. When looking for products online, you may visit Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or one of a number of ecommerce providers, where most questions about online shopping arise. ”
Pichai also notes that Google faces competition in the digital advertising market, but without specifically mentioning Facebook. Zuckerberg also claims that Facebook faces competition, including international competitions “that have access to markets where we are not.”
All: Our products are useful and loved
Essentially, all four CEOs write that the products that their companies offer are useful not only to the consumer, but to other companies as well.
For example, Tim Cook points out that the iPhone is 99 percent satisfied in customer surveys and that the company is investing in developer tools that are “ not only powerful, but so easy to use that students in elementary schools can and will create apps. ‘
For Sundar Pichai, Google’s benefits are felt by customers who access free services such as Search, Gmail, Maps and Photos, and he also states that Android has allowed cheap smartphones to hit the market. He argues that small business owners have been able to use Google’s services to provide online services and survive the pandemic.
Bezos says the Amazon marketplace has “helped many thousands of sellers grow their businesses on Amazon” and is trying to offer new services to customers before they even know they want it.
“We are driven internally to improve our services, add benefits and features, invent new products, lower prices and shorten shipping times – before we have to. No customer has ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it turns out they wanted it. And I could give you many such examples. ‘
Finally, Zuckerberg notes that Facebook’s services help “connect millions of businesses to customers” and help customers stay connected.
But in addition to this more general defense, each CEO takes the time to defend his company against specific criticisms made against them by his critics.
Amazon: we create jobs
For Amazon, a major recent criticism has been the treatment of its employees, which has recently increased as the company struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic. But Bezos argues that Amazon pays its employees well and invests a lot of money in training it.
“The trust customers place in us every day has enabled Amazon to create more jobs in the United States than any other company – hundreds of thousands of jobs in 42 states, over the past decade. Amazon workers earn a minimum of $ 15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage (which we urged Congress to raise). “
Bezos also says that Amazon spends more than $ 700 million on employee training and that its investments have created nearly 700,000 indirect jobs in areas such as construction.
Apple: Our App Store policy is fair
Apple knows that the App Store policies will be thoroughly investigated, but it states that the guidelines are equally applied to all developers and “guarantee a high-quality, reliable and secure user experience”.
In particular, Apple has come under fire for the 30 percent commission it charges for purchases through apps distributed through the App Store. However, Tim Cook states that these commissions are lower than those of its competitors, as are the services that existed before the App Store.
“After starting the 500 app, the App Store today houses more than 1.7 million, of which only 60 are Apple software. If Apple is a gatekeeper, it is clear that we have opened the gate wider. We don’t want to hold back every app we can get in the Store. “
Facebook: We didn’t take over competitors, we made them competitors
One of the more interesting parts of Zuckerberg’s opening commentary is where he defends his company’s Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, two acquisitions that some critics claim Facebook could gulp down its fast-growing competitors and consolidate the market. However, Zuckerberg says the image sharing and exchange service only became dominant because they had access to Facebook’s massive resources.
“After the takeover, Instagram was able to get help stabilizing the infrastructure and controlling runaway spam. It also took advantage of the ability to plug into Facebook’s self-service ad system, the sales team and existing advertiser relationships to generate revenue, and was able to build products including IG Direct and IG Video that leveraged Facebook’s technology and infrastructure . Before it was bought, WhatsApp was a paid app with a reputation for secure communication; together we built on that by introducing end-to-end encryption and making it free. Since the takeover, WhatsApp has also been able to develop products such as voice and video calling built on Facebook’s technology stack.
“These benefits came about through our acquisition of those companies and would not have happened if we hadn’t made those acquisitions.”
In addition to talking about Facebook’s takeover of Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg’s opening comments include another call for more regulation for Facebook.
Google: Our investments keep American technology competitive
Finally, as America reckons with China’s increasing prominence in the international technical landscape, Google’s Sundar Pichai says it’s Google’s investments that will enable the US to maintain its lead.
“Every year we are among the world’s largest investors in research and development. In late 2019, our R&D expenditures had increased nearly 10 times in 10 years, from $ 2.8 billion to $ 26 billion. We have invested over $ 90 billion in the past 5 years.
Through these investments, our engineering teams help America strengthen its position as a world leader in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and quantum computing. For example, last fall, our team of researchers here in the US were the first to reach a milestone in quantum computing, a discovery that could eventually lead to new breakthroughs in medicine and more efficient batteries. ”
The four CEOs will testify before the conference later today.