I knew they were bad, but this was blistering:
by Napolean Linarthatos, The AmericanConservative
… generations that come after us will have the opportunity to wonder how on earth we had been duped for so long and so pathetically by a few Big Tech monopolists, how it was possible to have such a grand accumulation of power and wealth preserved by a system so bluntly corrupt in its modus operandi.
In October 2020, the House Antitrust Subcommittee issued a damning report of steamrolling corruption. It was so brazen, Amazon even sold counterfeit copies of products until the targets gave in — even big names, like Nike. The supergiant went into business against smaller companies, dumping product on the market in impossibly good offers, until it beat them, and stole their customers, and then bought them anyway. (After that customers discovered the deals were not so sweet.) Employees of Amazon even admitted they used private customer data to find market opportunities for Amazon to exploit. The situation is so rapacious now that little companies are not even bought out anymore, they are just cloned and crushed.
And it’s not just Amazon. Smaller partners of Apple might find themselves suddenly competing with a new inhouse Apple product, only to also find that Apple updated the OS in ways that made the original product look faulty.
In the year 2017, Facebook and Google captured “an astounding 99% of revenue growth from digital advertising in the US.” Thus, though astonishing, it is no surprise that, “due to Google and Facebook’s dominance, ‘the average growth rate for every other company in the sector was close to 0’.”
It’s got to the point where startups against any flavour of the Big Tech oligarchs are so likely to fail that investors are balking, and this segment of the market is known as “the kill zone”, where few who enter survive.
Killing with Counterfeits (how is this not illegal?)
The Amazon abuse in question was about counterfeit PopSockets products sold on Amazon. The founder of PopSockets, David Barnett, “testified that ‘Amazon was aware that large quantities’ of counterfeit PopSockets products were selling on its platform, but that Amazon allowed the problem to continue until PopSockets agreed to spend nearly two million dollars on Amazon marketing services.” In a free market economy, Amazon would have readily apologized to PopSockets and got on with cracking down on the illegal products. But when 63 percent of the online searches for products start on Amazon, then PopSockets has to give in to what even Tony Soprano would call extortion. Basically, Bezos’s Amazon wanted a piece of the business if PopSockets wanted the problem to go away.
Would you like predatory-price-wars with that?
Lina Khan, recently appointed to the Federal Trade Commission, has documented the case of Quidsi, once “one of the world’s fastest growing e-commerce companies.” Quidsi was very successful selling many different products through its subsidiaries, like Diapers.com. Amazon wanted to buy Quidsi back in 2009 but the founders of the company declined. It was then that Amazon used its size, reach, and financial heft to start a price war against Quidsi.
Quidsi executives saw that Amazon’s pricing bots—software “that carefully monitors other companies’ prices and adjusts Amazon’s to match”—were tracking Diapers.com and would immediately slash Amazon’s prices in response to Quidsi’s changes. In September 2010, Amazon rolled out Amazon Mom, a new service that offered a year’s worth of free two-day Prime shipping (which usually cost $79 a year). Customers could also secure an additional 30% discount on diapers by signing up for monthly deliveries as part of a service known as “Subscribe and Save.”
It was not long before Quidsi was sold to Amazon for $545 million.
David Evans says: Obviously these are the companies we want in charge of public speech. They are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Ponder the timing: The Predatory behaviour of the Big Tech menace was laid out a month before the US election last year but at the time, as scandalous as it was, few realized the triumph of the report would be neutralized weeks later, as the Big Tech played out its election gambit, thwarting the political oppononents that threatened to break the monopoly.
How prescient the headline here from October 2, 2020: