Video Of The Week: Targeting Tech: Is Antitrust the Answer?

USV’s portfolio company Recount Media produces excellent short (5 mins or less) videos about political news and related topics. They also produce the Shift series of events.

In November, Recount did a Shift event about Antitrust policy and my partner Brad Burnham was on the panel.

This is a Recount style 5min summary of that conversation.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    2:22 – “Whose data is it?”…3:32 – “Zuckerberg has argued that breaking up Facebook would actually be a national security risk”. Which is deeply insincere as the internet was originally conceived to decentralise risk.

  2. JLM

    .Anti-trust is all the law that is out there, but it isn’t the right set of laws.Sherman Act 1890 — deals with the prohibition of price fixing, the creation of cartels, and collusion, but only to the extent that they “restrain trade”Clayton Act 1914 — opines on mergers/acquisitions, but only to the extent they “substantially lessen competition”Federal Trade Commission Act 1914 — prohibits the abuse of a monopoly, but as tested by “consumer outcomes”OK, you can throw in the Robinson-Patman Act 1936 (price discrimination) and Celler-Kefauver Act 1950 (cleaned up a detail overlooked in the Clayton/Sherman Acts pertaining to vertical integration, the formation of conglomerates, the purchase not of a competitor, but the competitor’s assets).Worst of all, much of this gets settled by direct negotiation amongst the parties with the government stepping in to “control economic power in the public interest” — whatever the Hell that means.These laws feature both civil and criminal dilemmas which is an odd combination.I just saved you a semester or two of law school. Worse news — that is really all the law that is out there on these subjects. It may take a long time to read, to study the pertinent cases, but it can be summarized as noted above.The big problem is that the consumer appears to be benefiting from most of the things that are being complained of while the laws were based on historic, horrific offenses. The vocabulary of the existing legal base doesn’t really work with the reality of the current market and the market seems to be dealing with some of these things — though viciously in some areas.Is it right to go after Google if its only sin is that it is better than everybody else’s search function?Free/fair traders will say — drive on — while social justice warriors will say — can we pick the winners?What is really happening is that the big tech firms are infinitely more sophisticated, get into the fight earlier, and hire away the regulators.Anti-trust will be discussed at a lot of cocktail parties — sort of like impeachment — but, like impeachment, it is going nowhere.Merry Christmas, y’all. Take a minute to say thanks for the times we live in and the place we live. It’ll be 73F in Austin By God Texas on Monday.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. Emily Steed

    I loved the summary of the points of view. Really well done. Great idea. I am filled with dread when I click on a video that turns out to be an hour. It would be cool to be able to watch this 5 minute summary and also have the option at each key discussion point to have an option to see a fuller discussion on each specific point.

  4. sigmaalgebra

    Okay, tried the Recount site for the first time:It started with, and I saw no option to avoid it, one of the Democrat debates. Since so far I’ve totally ignored those debates, that was my first on those debates. Then right away I concluded:(i) Nothing to see here.(ii) I was fully correct in ignoring the debates, likely didn’t and won’t miss anything at all important.(iii) It is just ASTOUNDING how difficult it is even in POTUS level politics to get people up there that have even an appearance of being out of the 10th, 8th, 6th grade. Those Recount video clips looked like some really bad grade school civics class where the students were asked to pretend they were running for POTUS and debating except the grade school kids would at least have looked a lot more like adults.(iv) It’s really scary for our country to see how totally hopeless, separated from any reality, the best of one of our two major parties really are.(v) I get reminded and surprised at how good are POTUS Trump, Senators McConnell, Sasse, Graham, Congressmen Nunes, Jordan, and more.

  5. William Mougayar

    What Brad said is so true. We end up leaving all kinds of digital breadcrumbs and fingerprints but there is no way to capitalize on that.

  6. sigmaalgebra

    blank — looks like a Disqus error

  7. sigmaalgebra

    blank — looks like a Disqus error

  8. sigmaalgebra

    On anti-trust and tech?Yes, recently from some of the newsiesI’ve seen what looks like one more oftheir usual efforts to create smelly baitfor their ad hook. In this case theytrying to get people all scared — scaringpeople as inOh, we got Trouble,Right here in River City.Trouble starts with a T,And that rhymes with a C,And that stands for computer!where scaring people is the barb in theirhook. Here they assume we are going to bescared because (i) tech is big,with a lot of money, and (ii) makes bigand crucial uses of technology not manypeople understand.While I’ve seen their smelly bait, I’veignored it, i.e., right away concludedthat there is nothing there of substanceor anything else deserving attention.Google? Fine with me! I use it, but justfor keyword search it appears that Bingworks as well. And I do like YouTube:…and since it’s Christmas (thank youPresident Trump!), we can listen to…Facebook? Nearly never use it.Instagram? Never use it; don’t even knowwhat it is or how to use it.Linked in? Apparently like lots of peopleI worked hard off and on for months, overand over and over to cancel, delete,obliterate, eradicate, etc. my accountthere and, in recent months no longerreceive their spam.Microsoft? If Apple, Linux, etc. want todo better, fine with me, but so far for mysoftware development and startup Microsoftlooks like the best to me.What does concern me are the efforts toreally seriously hurt, even destroy, ourcountry, via totally demented nonsense:Pelosi and her impeachment scam.The absurd claims of global warming causedby human sources of CO2.Little Liawatha and her $94 T Green NewDeal and $54 T Medicare for all.

  9. pointsnfigures

    very hard to get the nuance of this in five minutes. that’s the problem with a lot of issues today and the problem with the media. in many cases, they aren’t curious enough. in a lot of cases, their own personal confirmation bias triumphs over the real story. the other fact is the public is too busy, too distracted to try and understand so they filter the news through their own confirmation biases.