There has been an increasing drumbeat with politicians on both sides of the aisle to further regulate and potentially break up the biggest tech companies. Commonly driven by scandals in social media these days, companies like Facebook and Google, which until recently were darlings of left-leaning politicians, are now squarely in the crosshairs of the 2020 election cycle. As we know, perception and reality don’t always meet, especially when it comes to politics. So, what’s real? Are big tech companies too big? Do they have too much control over our digital lives? Research from eMarketer shows that 67% of all online ad spending goes to Facebook, Google or Amazon.com. That's a pretty incredible stat. For these three companies the area of greatest control for each of them come in as follow:
- Amazon:38% of all online sales
- Facebook:83% of social media use/revenue
- Google:96% of free (non-subscription) video usage
Those numbers are remarkable. The reason these companies have been able to create this type of near dominance is through a highly successful core business that was then used to buy up competing and complementary businesses. For example, Facebook is really six businesses which include Instagram and What’s App in addition to the core Facebook platform. Google is more than 200 companies, including YouTube and Android. Lastly, though you might not think of Amazon as a company with a plethora of brands. They very much are. Amazon has acquired over 100 companies in its history including Whole Foods and Ring.
This is where the point comes full circle. You’re often doing business with these three even when you don’t realize it. If something pops up to challenge them, they can quickly buy it and continue to enhance market share. I’m very much a free-market minded capitalist but there are questions that can be legitimately raised about whether these companies should continue as currently created. But that's for you, and perhaps the politicians you elect, to decide.
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