Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has long been celebrated in China for his successful entrepreneurship that has made him that country’s richest individual. More recently, however, his troubles with the Chinese government led that country’s media to dub him an “evil capitalist” and “bloodsucking ghost.” Last week, China opened an antitrust probe into Alibaba and is investigating Ant Group, a fintech company Ma spun out of Alibaba. After nixing that company’s IPO, China is now telling Ma to fix its many perceived flaws. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Google issued its first formal rejoinder to the Justice Department’s charges that the company has used its position, including deals with other Big Tech companies, to maintain its dominance in online search. Google denies, in a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, charges of violating antitrust laws or engaging in anticompetitive behavior. Evidence was uncovered that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist” one another should they be investigated for working together on online advertising. Continue reading Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

State Attorneys General File Another Lawsuit Against Google

Google is now facing a third antitrust suit. Two months after the Justice Department, joined by 46 state attorneys general, filed suits charging anticompetitive behavior, and only one day after 10 other state attorneys general accused the company of using its dominance to control advertising and overcharge publishers, another suit has landed. This suit, made up of a bipartisan group of 30 AGs, accuses the Big Tech giant of illegally manipulating search results to push competitors out of the way. Continue reading State Attorneys General File Another Lawsuit Against Google

States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, 10 state attorneys general charged Google with abusing its dominance by overcharging publishers for ads and elbowing out rivals. The lawsuit also contends that Google struck a deal with Facebook to limit the latter’s efforts to compete for ads. Google claimed the suit is “baseless” and said that it intends to fight it. Another group of states is expected to file a case against Google. This lawsuit is the first to focus on tools that connect buyers and publishers of ad space. Continue reading States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

Salesforce.com inked a $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy Slack Technologies. The purchase, double any other Salesforce acquisition, positions the company to compete with Microsoft and Alphabet. Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff pioneered software subscriptions running on remote servers, which evolved into tech tools for businesses. Slack Technologies chief executive Stewart Butterfield pioneered online collaboration tools as an alternative to email but, when COVID-19 hit, Slack was slow to pick up video tools. Continue reading Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Facebook disclosed plans to buy Kustomer, a customer relationship management startup, in a deal valued by sources at close to $1 billion. Crunchbase stated the New York-based Kustomer has raised about $170 million in venture capital funding. Kustomer would help Facebook provide customer support on its main platform and its services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. The deal, subject to regulatory scrutiny, comes as Facebook is already being investigated for its acquisition of startups as anticompetitive behavior. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

To help businesses hold paid digital events during the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple stated that companies offering virtual events or digital classes via iPhone apps won’t have to pay the 30 percent commission fee ordinarily applied to App Store in-app purchases. This concession will extend through the end of June 2021. Apple will also reduce its commission for smaller developers. Meanwhile, Epic Games, which with other developers has been fighting Apple over its in-app commission fee, now has an ally in Nvidia. The GPU and gaming company is testing its GeForce NOW gaming platform on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Continue reading Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

On December 2, European Commission EVP and commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager and European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton plan to announce the new rules governing powerful online companies. Among the draft rules of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, Big Tech companies will have to share data with rivals and regulators. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai also apologized to Breton over a leaked document revealing his company’s proposed tactics against the European Union’s new, tougher rules. Continue reading European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

After months of anticipation, the European Union, led by competition chief Margrethe Vestager, is finally filing antitrust charges against Amazon, with the belief it has enough hard evidence to charge the Big Tech company. The EU claims that Amazon used data to build copycat products that undermines independent businesses, especially in France and Germany. EU regulators also have an ongoing investigation into Amazon’s alleged practice of favorable treatment for its “Buy Box” and “Prime Label” features. Continue reading European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

As anticipated, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google, accusing the company of “unlawfully maintaining monopolies” involving its search and related advertising services. The DOJ is also questioning the terms of Google’s Android operating system, which the Department believes essentially forces phone makers to pre-load Google apps and set Google Search as a default feature. The concern is that the practice unfairly hinders competition and enables Google to generate significant revenue from its search-related advertising business. Continue reading Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Amazon Notes Prime Day Was a Bonanza for Small Vendors

Although it didn’t reveal total Prime Day numbers, Amazon stated that small- and medium-size businesses in its marketplace earned $3.5+ billion during the event, a 60 percent increase from last year’s sales and a record for these vendors. It added that third-party sales on Prime Day grew more than Amazon’s own retail business. Prime Day was launched in 2015 and has become one of Amazon’s more crucial retail and marketing events. This year’s event was pushed from July to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Notes Prime Day Was a Bonanza for Small Vendors

Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

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