Here’s what the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet will say at Wednesday’s antitrust hearing
CEOs of four of the world’s largest and most influential tech companies are scheduled to testify before a House antitrust panel on Wednesday, and they plan to highlight how their products improve the lives and jobs of Americans.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com Inc. AMZN,
, Tim Cook of Apple Inc. AAPL,
, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc. FB,
and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,
will appear via video conference starting at noon Eastern Time.
The House judicial antitrust subcommittee is expected to question executives – who have never appeared before lawmakers together – about their business practices and influence on the lives of consumers.
Read: Congress has over a million documents from Big Tech’s antitrust investigation and ready to grill big-name CEOs
According to prepared statements published Tuesday evening, here’s what everyone will say:
Bezos’ opening statement is rich in personal anecdotes, with stories of how his parents and grandparents influenced him. About his grandfather: “He taught me that you can face difficult problems. When you have a failure, you get up and try again. You can invent your way to a better place.
Bezos emphasizes Amazon’s focus on customer service. “By obsessively focusing on customers, we are internally determined to improve our services, add benefits and features, invent new products, lower prices and speed up shipping times, before we don’t have to. … Not all companies take this customer-centric approach, but we do, and it’s our greatest strength.
He cites positive survey numbers for the Amazon brand and notes Amazon’s billions of dollars in investment in the United States and its massive workforce, including stories about an Amazon employee and third-party sellers. .
As for the competition, he says “there is room in retail for many winners,” noting competitors such as Walmart, Target and Costco, as well as startups such as Shopify and Instacart. “The range of competitors in retail and related services is constantly evolving, and the only real constant in retail is customers’ desire for lower prices, better choice and more convenience. »The unsaid is that of Amazon 49% market share of online retail spending, as of 2018.
Bezos also says his business is not above all control.
“I think Amazon should be scrutinized. We should be looking at all major institutions, whether they are businesses, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Our responsibility is to make sure we pass this exam with flying colors, ”he wrote.
Bezos ends by praising the late Representative John Lewis and saying that despite the challenges the country currently faces, from racial inequalities to coronavirus to climate change, “I have never been so optimistic about our future.”
Cook begins his statement by also praising Lewis and his legacy. He skips all the personal anecdotes and gets straight to the point, saying “Apple is a uniquely American company whose success is only possible in this country.”
He says Apple is focusing on better products, not necessarily the more, and that she always focuses on the customer. Cook refers to a saying from co-founder Steve Jobs: “We only make things that we would recommend to our family and friends. “
Cook notes that Apple customers are very happy with their products, saying it is “the best measure” that the company is on the right track.
He says Apple does not have a dominant market share in any category, and notes that the “fiercely competitive” smartphone market has rivals such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Huawai and Google.
As for the App Store – at the center of many antitrust complaints and the source of about $ 15 billion a year, taken from a 30% drop in sales – Cook said app developers “set prices of their apps and never pay for “storage space.”
“For the vast majority of apps on the App Store, developers keep 100% of the money they earn,” he says, saying that for apps subject to commissions, Apple’s fees are cheaper. as the distribution of software before the development of the App Store. . This can be a bit misleading, as Apple requires mainstream apps to have in-app registrations and payments, so Apple can take a part – a policy that messaging startup Hey got upset about recently.
Cook boasts that Apple’s ecosystem helped create nearly 2 million jobs in the United States and contributed half a trillion dollars in global trade in 2019 – “nothing short of a miracle economic”. He also notes Apple’s investments in education and its commitment to privacy.
Cook calls the review “reasonable and appropriate” and says the company is approaching the hearing “with respect and humility”, although he says “we make no concessions on the facts.”
“I share the subcommittee’s conviction that competition is a great virtue,” he says, “that it fosters innovation, that it makes room for the next big idea and that it gives consumers more choice.
Zuckerberg presents his statement as an essay in elementary school, organized into eight sections.
“Facebook is part of an industry that has changed the world,” he says in his introduction. “I am proud that we are standing up for American values such as giving every person a voice and expanding access to opportunity.”
He says Facebook competes globally and “our story wouldn’t have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation. I believe that a strong and coherent competition policy is vital because it ensures that the playing field is level for all. “
He also points out that “Facebook is a proudly American company”, but warns that there is “no guarantee that our values will prevail. For example, China is building its own version of the Internet based on very different ideas, and it is exporting its vision to other countries. ”
As for its acquisitions – a main point of antitrust contention – Zuckerberg says they have helped spur innovation. “Acquisitions bring together the complementary strengths of different companies,” he says. “The end result is better services that deliver more value to people and advertisers, which is a central goal of Facebook’s acquisition strategy.”
Zuckerberg is also a bit off topic. “I know our main focus at this hearing is to talk about antitrust and competition issues, but with four top tech CEOs appearing before Congress, we also have the opportunity to talk about how tech can better serve society. … I hope that at least part of today’s audience will focus on the future and how our collective scale and resources could be harnessed to help people and businesses.
He concludes on a slightly defensive note: “If I understand our laws correctly, companies are not bad just because they are big. Many large companies that fail to compete cease to exist. That’s why we focus on creating and updating our products to give people the best possible experiences. …. I have long believed that the nature of our industry is that one day a product will replace Facebook. I want us to be the ones to build it, because if we don’t, someone else will.
Pichai, an immigrant from India, begins with the topic of opportunities, both personally and globally. “Basically, a discussion of competition is a discussion of opportunity,” he says.
“Our work would not be possible without America’s long tradition of innovation, and we are proud to contribute to its future,” he said, highlighting Google’s 75,000 U.S. employees and estimated U.S. investments of $ 20 billion. dollars in 2018, and that the tech giant has been among the top five U.S. investors for the past three years.
Pichai uses personal stories from Google users and explains how her products help individuals and businesses on Main Street.
He also touts Google’s technological investments in America’s future, saying that “our engineering teams are helping America consolidate its position as a global leader in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and quantum computing “.
As for competition, he says Google’s success is not guaranteed and notes very competitive global markets. “Today’s competitive landscape is nothing like it was 5 years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search,” he says. .
He also claims that consumers have benefited from lower ad prices. “For example, competition in advertising – from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast and others – has helped reduce online advertising costs by 40% over the past 10 years, with those savings being passed on to consumers through at lower prices. “
He concludes by emphasizing Google’s commitments to user privacy – while saying that “more needs to be done to protect users across industries” – and ensuring “the competitive technological edge of the America in the world ”.