Donald Trump has accused Jeff Bezos of using the Washington Post, which he owns, to sway politicians into making corporate tax policy decisions favorable to Amazon.com, which he founded. “He’s using the Washington Post, which is peanuts, he’s using that for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust,” Trump told Fox News on Thursday.
Microsoft has just filed its first antitrust complaint, in the EU against Google. Let's try to get past the obvious fact that this is like Lady Gaga complaining that someone dresses weird and rips off Madonna while she hurls stones out of a glass house. This is important stuff. It could determine which massive tech corporation controls all of our data in the dystopian future!
Microsoft, harried by regulators in the 1990s, once lobbied Congress to cut spending on antitrust enforcement. Now, it's profiting from their efforts. The software giant's lobbying budget nearly doubled from 2006 to 2008, helping it sink Yahoo's deal to have Google sell ads for its search pages. The failure of that deal helped speed Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang out the door, and could set Microsoft up to win Yahoo's search business. CNET News]
LG, Sharp and Chunghwa have agreed to plead guilty. The crime: Coordinating higher prices on flat-screen LCD displays sold to Apple, Dell, Motorola and others. The Department of Justice's antitrust division claims the three companies held meetings and traded messages in order to agree on higher prices for the displays. The DOJ's press release has full details. (Illustration by Plasma.com)
When did Eric Schmidt turn into such a wimp? When Google and Yahoo first proposed a deal to have Google sell search ads for Yahoo, Schmidt brazenly gave antitrust regulators a four-month deadline to review it. After that, Google would blaze ahead with the deal. The deadline came and went. Over the weekend, Google and Yahoo turned in a revised deal that they hoped would impress regulators. The bottom line: It is half as lucrative as Yahoo had hoped, generating $400 million a year rather than $800 million, limiting Google-sold ads to a quarter of Yahoo's search-related revenue. It's better than nothing, but it leaves Schmidt in a weak position the next time he wants to talk tough with the feds. Then again, maybe he's planning to dump Larry and Sergey for a nice, safe government job.
Yahoo's deal to outsource some of its search advertising to Google continues to face scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Google CEO Eric Schmidt had said he'd carry out the deal whether or not regulators had finished their review. Regulators called his bluff, and America's CTO has now lost face, not to mention credibility. Why not just bow out and move on? That seems easier.
If the Justice Department does allow Google to serve ads on some of Yahoo's websites, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl believes it should then monitor "the amount of advertising outsourced by Yahoo to Google" to make sure it doesn't increase over time. His math: "Should the amount significantly increase, we believe the threat to competition will also increase." Then, the DOJ could step in "if, over time, you determine that Google is gaining a dominant market position as a result of the Google-Yahoo agreement." Here's hoping Alaska Senator Ted Stevens will weigh in next on the need to monitor the deal's tube-clogging effects. [Reuters]