Khan Big Tech’s power be reined in?
I try to stay away from politics in this space. Particularly partisan politics, the Us vs Them obsession of many that has caused much of the Western world to descend into a constantly bickering mess where nothing gets done and everyone is mad.
All the time.
However, if I am to understand the flow of money and emerging financial trends — and I definitely do want to do that — then occasionally I have to be at least a little bit aware of what’s going on.
To that end, I turned my attention last week to the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK. This week, I’m going to cross the Atlantic to Washington. So hold on, I’m about to dip my toe in the capital of bickering, dysfunctional politics — the United States.
In particular, the appointment of Lina Khan as the chair of the Federal Trade Commission.
Boring, you might think.
Well, maybe partly, but it is definitely an important move for anyone who is interested in investing and in Big Tech to know about and understand.
You see, Ms. Khan is a very smart and connected opponent to what she sees as the monopolistic practices of the Big Tech companies that are operating in the United States. Since, we are talking about companies like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon here, any change to how they operate is going to have far reaching implications beyond the borders of the United States.
I’m not here to predict what all that might mean for the stock price of these companies, but, you know, it will mean something. Everything means something.
So, what is it about Khan that has people like Jeff Bezos concerned?
For starters, this is a woman that rose to prominence after writing a paper for the Yale Law Journal called Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox. That’s pretty personal for a guy like Bezos, I suspect.
That paper — which argues that US Antitrust laws are insufficient to protect consumers in a modem, eCommerse era — was the driving force to her fast rise to this powerful position. And, as a young (she’s just 32), worldly (she was born in the UK and is of Asian heritage) and tech savvy person, Khan is far more tuned into the modern world than the politicians she now will serve as the chair of the FTC.
The other thing that should have Big Tech nervous is that Khan’s appointment was a relatively quiet one. As stated, nothing gets done quietly in Washington these days and that there was a lack of partisanship involved tells you that Team Donkey and Team Elephant actually agree on something here.
Although no one articulates it perfectly, or the same, it seems everyone instinctively understands that something isn’t quite right.
That Big Tech is too powerful is one of the few issues that everyone in the US seems to agree on and now they have someone in a position of power that is looking to change that.
How will that look?
We’re going to have to wait and see, but it’s going to look like something and the Big Tech companies are going to need to figure out how to navigate whatever changes might happen.