WaPo's Steven Pearlstein: "Time to loosen Google's grip?"
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein poses a poignant question to regulators this morning, asking if it’s “Time to loosen Google’s grip?” The entire piece is a must-read, but here are some highlights:
Where I have a problem, however, is in allowing Google to buy its way into new markets and new technologies, particularly when the firms being bought already have a dominant position in their respective market niches.
That was certainly the case with the company’s recent acquisitions of You Tube, DoubleClick and AdMob. It is the case with Google’s proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, the leading provider of software used in online searches for airline flights, which is currently under review by the Justice Department. And it surely would have been the case with Groupon, the local Web advertising company, had the hot startup decided last month to accept Google’s reported eye-popping $6 billion offer.
One at a time, these deals might appear to be relatively benign. But taken together, they allow Google to increase the scale and scope of its activities and to further enhance its controlling position across a range of sectors.
Pearlstein concludes by issuing a direct challenge to antitrust regulators:
It’s easy to see why Google would want to use well-chosen acquisitions to try to delay or prevent that next round of creative destruction. What’s harder to understand is why we would let them do it.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.