Last week the FTC announced that it would be scrutinizing Big Tech’s acquisition practices going back 10 years.
The stated impetus for this massive endeavor is apparently that smaller deals for firms under the $94 million level were never scrutinized.
“This initiative will enable the commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said.
The politically charged campaign is directed at behemoths Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. So while it’s political season, Washington needs to be careful not to squash the job-producing, GDP anchor that stems from California’s Silicon Valley to NYC’s own Silicon Alley.
Last I checked, everybody’s life has improved along with the growth of Big Tech. Where would we be without email, texting and smartphones?
And ask any tech startup founders if they’d like to be acquired, most will say yes, that’s their “exit strategy” — just as it is for the venture capitalists backing them.
Take Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Who was hurt by that deal? Maybe a few short-sellers, but Amazon went in and lowered prices on many things — a win for the consumer.
Some say Facebook’s April 2012 purchase of Instagram for $1 billion should be scrutinized.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who founded Instagram in April 2010, didn’t have to sell two years later; they chose to.
Teaming up with Facebook was undoubtedly the best thing for its 13 employees at the time. Today, the engineering team at Instagram alone has over 400 employees.
So my message to Washington is simple: Hands off our growth, please.
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