4 Tech CEOs, $4.8 trillion in market value, and a mob of hungry politicians: it's showtime!
Hello and welcome to Trending, Business Insider's weekly look at the world of tech. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's West Coast Bureau Chief and Global Tech Editor. If you want to get
This week: Big Tech's Big 4 are coming to town
Get the popcorn and pull up a chair. If you're even remotely interested in tech then you've probably heard that the CEOs of four of the most powerful companies on the planet are due to testify (virtually) in Congress today.
There's a few reasons why this is a big deal:
- The chief executives being questioned by the House
antitrustsubcommittee — Apple's Tim Cook, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg — represent corporations worth a combined $4.8 TRILLION in market value.
The amount of power and influence these companies wield is so astronomical it's difficult to fathom, and that's just when looking at them through a financial lens. Nearly 3 billion people — roughly one out of every three people on Earth — rely on their products to communicate, stay informed about news and current events, and shop.
Surprise... CEOs like Bezos and Pichai plan to tell Congress that their companies face plenty of competition.
- It's the first time that Jeff Bezos has ever testified at a Congressional hearing.
Bezos founded Amazon more than 25 years ago, turning an online bookstore into a commercial juggernaut that can deliver almost any product you want straight to your doorstep in a matter of days (an awesome accomplishment that has made him the world's richest person), without ever having the chance to publicly answer lawmakers' questions under oath at a Congressional hearing.
Pay attention to: Bezos was praised in 2019 when he publicly confronted the National Enquirer, refusing to be shamed — and, according to Bezos, to be "extorted" — because of compromising selfies and text messages the tabloid obtained. But Bezos had plenty of resources and time to orchestrate that moment. On Wednesday, the 56-year-old
Amazonfounder will be on his own and the world will be watching his every move in real time.
- While antitrust is the stated purpose of Wednesday's hearing, there are so many other critical issues involving these same four companies — including foreign election interference and privacy — that the discussion is certain to veer beyond the confines of competition theory.
To be sure... there will political grandstanding, amusing displays of boomerism and cheap stunts. And yes, the format of quickfire questions is not ideal for substantive discussion. But with the presidential election less than 100 days away, there's a lot at stake, and a lot of questions that need to be asked.
The day after...
After Wednesday's action on Capitol Hill, Amazon, Alphabet,
- Apple's iPhone 12 is in a battle with the coronavirus. On Thursday, Apple will give a big clue about who won.
- Amazon said it would spend all $4 billion of its Q2 profits on COVID-19 responses. Wall Street still expects a profitable quarter.
- Facebook's earnings report could highlight how quickly the pandemic accelerated the advantage for big tech
"Any time I start anything new, something bad happens, but there was this moment of, okay, well this is just another bad thing and I guess I've done it before."
— Jen Grant, CEO of Turbo Systems, who graduated from business school after the dotcom boom in 2001, left
Snapshot: The mask of the future
We're five months into lockdown, and I'm still trying to find the ideal mask.
So my curiosity was piqued when I heard about this curious contraption from the good citizens of New Zealand. The battery-operated Atmos mask, from AO Air, has a fan that supplies clean air, as well as a "nanofilter" that removes pollen, dust and other particles. Most importantly, it's clear, so you can flash a smile, grimace or scowl to all the people doing double-takes when they see you sporting this $350, space-age mask.
Not necessarily in tech:
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