Clark: Big Tech Is Booming and the Gov’t Can’t Stand It
Google parent Alphabet joined its big tech brothers in the $1 trillion club this week, and the wolves in Washington can’t stand it.
Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOGL) reached the $1 trillion mark in market value on Thursday. They joined Apple (Nasdaq: APPL), Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) as companies that have reached that landmark.
Toss in Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) and the five companies add up to $5.2 trillion in valuation — roughly 17% of the S&P 500, according to FactSet.
All of that success has drawn the ire of one group: politicians.
Big Tech Gets Fire From Both Sides
Big tech firms have been under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has suggested Twitter suspend the account of President Donald Trump for violating service rules.
Look let's be honest, @realDonaldTrump's Twitter account should be suspended.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 1, 2019
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has suggested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.
And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for these companies to play the middle of the road and not get sucked into partisan politics.
But as the 2020 presidential election kicks off, it’s a safe bet that big tech will continue to be a political punching bag.
Trump hammered on Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos. That has led to a lawsuit by Amazon to block Microsoft from working on a Defense Department cloud contract, citing Trump’s “personal dislike” of Bezos as to why Amazon didn’t win the bid.
On the other side, Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has gone so far as to suggest big tech companies be broken up. The notion was actually supported by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who said “she was right — Big Tech has way too much power to silence Free Speech,” in a retweet.
First time I’ve ever retweeted @ewarren But she’s right—Big Tech has way too much power to silence Free Speech. They shouldn’t be censoring Warren, or anybody else. A serious threat to our democracy. https://t.co/VoesOKSqhA
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 12, 2019
Big Tech Avoiding the Fight
By and large, big tech companies have avoided the political games, but Amazon has been one to poke back when hammered by Washington.
When New York Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez suggested the online retailer pays “starvation wages” to workers, Amazon fired back on Twitter saying she “is just wrong.” The company also fired back at former Vice President Joe Biden for suggesting Amazon doesn’t pay a fair amount of taxes.
The latest news that Alphabet — another company that has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle for privacy issues — will likely just fan the flames of outrage over how big the companies have become and what Washington can do to pare it back.
But business is business and the government has little room to talk about getting too big.
Find me a company that runs itself like the U.S. government and I’ll show you a company that’s not in business anymore.
Perhaps our politicians should stay out of business’ way and focus on more pressing issues.