EU Pushes Its Antitrust Case Against Facebook Marketplace

The European Commission has formed a “preliminary view” that Meta Platforms has breached EU antitrust law by manipulating competition in the online classified advertising markets on Facebook and Instagram. The Commission took particular umbrage with the bundling of Meta’s Facebook with access to Facebook Marketplace, which allows users to buy and sell items. Meta could face a fine as high as $11.8 billion if the allegations of self-dealing prove true. The Commission also claims Meta is imposing unfair conditions on Marketplace competitors for its own benefit. Continue reading EU Pushes Its Antitrust Case Against Facebook Marketplace

Deepmind’s AlphaCode AI Can Program Like Human Coders

DeepMind researchers have trained an AI to solve computer coding challenges as well as the average person. In a paper published last week in the journal Science, the group from Google’s AI division described how AlphaCode performed when pitted against human programmers, ranking in the top 54.3 percent in simulated tests, commensurate with “approximately human-level performance.” “This performance in competitions approximately corresponds to a novice programmer with a few months to a year of training,” according to Science, which says about half the humans who compete in coding contests could outperform the AI. Continue reading Deepmind’s AlphaCode AI Can Program Like Human Coders

Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

A group of 26 Taylor Swift fans have filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster, alleging anticompetitive conduct and fraud after a glitch resulted in the ticketing service canceling sales to Swift’s “Eras” tour, leaving thousands of fans — some of whom waited four to eight hours in ticket queues last month — “empty-handed and unhappy,” according to The New York Times. Their outcry resulted in not only a 33-page complaint filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, but also Congressional demands to unwind the 2010 merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Swift’s 52-show Eras tour is scheduled to begin in March. Continue reading Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

ETC@USC Student Challenge: Future of Themed Experiences

On October 22, ETC@USC began a one-week student challenge on “The Future of Themed Experiences.” Leveraging the tools, techniques and resources of today and those that could emerge in the next few years, students were asked to come up with an original idea for an experience that: 1) has a specific location-based experience, and 2) extends the experience out into the real and virtual worlds before and after the person has the location-based experience. Eighteen 3-minute pitch videos were submitted and an esteemed panel of industry executives chose to reward five of them. All 18 videos with follow-up Q&A discussions are available online. Continue reading ETC@USC Student Challenge: Future of Themed Experiences

Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Next week, the EU’s Digital Markets Act takes effect, and U.S. tech giants are preparing for headaches. Among the DMA’s goals is making companies like Amazon, Google and Meta Platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. Last month, veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf, who helped create the DMA, was installed as director of a satellite office in San Francisco. There, he will help Big Tech prepare for breaking out their wallets and breaking open their walled gardens as the result of  “significant” changes to how they’ve been doing business in Europe. Meanwhile, telecoms in Europe are looking for tech firms to pay new fees based on bandwidth issues. Continue reading Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Adobe Will Purchase Digital Design Rival Figma for $20 Billion

Adobe announced it plans to purchase rival digital design suite Figma for $20 billion in cash and stock. The news was disclosed as part of its Q3 earnings report, which saw revenue of $4.43 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations. Despite the healthy cashflow, Adobe says it may have to finance part of the deal, which will have to clear regulatory hurdles in a very pro-competition environment. Founded in 2011, Figma released its first product in 2015, leveraging the WebGL API to create real-time collaborative tools for web-based design teams “working together beyond company walls.” Figma lists Airbnb, Conde Nast and Github among its users. Continue reading Adobe Will Purchase Digital Design Rival Figma for $20 Billion

California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

California attorney general Rob Bonta has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the e-tailer has managed to bend competition and pricing to its will. Only about 25 million of Amazon’s 147 million U.S. customers are domiciled in California, but if the measure succeeds it could impact regulations across the country and across the globe. “For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” Bonta said Wednesday. “Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants,” resulted in “higher prices and more control.” Continue reading California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

The Senate moved to advance legislation that supports U.S. semiconductor manufacturing by stripping other aspects from a larger China competitiveness bill. Dubbed “CHIPS-plus,” the narrowed proposal still allocates $52 billion in subsidies for chipmakers but had a “hold-this-space” marker for the remainder of the language. The procedural motion required 51 votes to determine if this stripped-down version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) could proceed to a final vote even though adjustments would continue to be made before the Senate votes on the finished result. It cleared that hurdle, 64-34. Continue reading Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

In the wake of the European Union’s strict new digital-competition laws, Amazon has proposed settlements in two EU antitrust cases. The U.S.-based e-commerce giant says it will stop using non-public data it obtains from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace to inform its own business decisions in competition with those sellers. A separate investigation found Amazon to be self-dealing with regard to its Buy Box and Prime plans, resulting in a commitment to give third-party sellers equal treatment. The commitments would remain in force for five years, monitored by a trustee reporting to the European Commission. Continue reading Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Big Tech is pulling out all the stops to prevent Congress from signing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) into law before the midterm elections. Amazon and Alphabet have rallied forces in opposition to the antitrust measure whose principal goal is to halt “self-preferencing,” or the ability of online giants to use their market strength in one area to help boost sideline subsidiaries through preferential treatment. For instance, Alphabet using its wholly-owned search engine Google to promote its own shopping or travel products. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Netflix Subscribers Struggle with New Password-Sharing Fee

Netflix subscribers are adjusting to its new pay-to-password-share policy, and it’s reportedly been a bumpy transition. In Peru, where active accounts were automatically opted-in for new sharing restrictions, reports of confusion are emerging. At issue, a reported lack of clarity over the company’s definition of a “household,” and new charges related to the term. In March, Netflix announced a test run of paid password sharing for non-household users in Costa Rica and Chile, as well as Peru. The Central and South American markets are on the lower side of Netflix’s revenue-per-user scale. Continue reading Netflix Subscribers Struggle with New Password-Sharing Fee

EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

European regulators on Monday hit Apple with an antitrust charge, alleging it has created a “closed system” for contactless mobile payments. The so-called statement of objections says the iPhone maker has abused its market power by favoring its Apple Pay for mobile contactless payments to the detriment of third-party services like PayPal, which reportedly helped initiate the charges. The European Commission says it has reason to believe Apple withheld access to its NFC inputs in order to suppress other mobile-wallet app developers from competing with Apple Pay, which the Commission called “a closed ecosystem.” Continue reading EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

Intel Announces Plans for New $20 Billion Chip Plant in Ohio

Intel is building a new $20 billion chip foundry in Ohio, where CEO Patrick Gelsinger says the company envisions investing more than $100 billion over the next decade to create a complex of up to eight plants. The move is part of a U.S. effort to increase domestic production of computer chips, alleviating supply chain shortages and reducing reliance on foreign suppliers. The new build, located near Columbus, is an economic boon for Ohio, creating 7,000 construction jobs and eventually employment for about 3,000 people in two flagship factories, and potentially many more jobs through the satellite suppliers nearby. Continue reading Intel Announces Plans for New $20 Billion Chip Plant in Ohio

Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case

A federal judge has allowed a Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to proceed, denying dismissal, a major victory for the agency as it gears up to take on Big Tech. The FTC claims the company, which since renamed itself Meta Platforms, accrued monopoly power and abused it by harming competition through an acquisitions strategy described as “buy or bury.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling is seen as a warning to tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple and Google and the armies of lobbyists and lawyers employed to protect their interests. Continue reading Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case