The DoJ and a coalition of states' attorneys general are said to be on the verge of bringing at least two antitrust actions against Google: the actions will probe Google's use of search, Android and ad-tech to establish and maintain monopolies.

It's not clear whether the AGs and DoJ will file separate or joint complaints (the DoJ's antitrust malpractice in permitting the idiotic Sprint/T-Mobile merger has soured AGs on its antitrust division).


An antitrust action against a company as well-heeled as Google is an expensive marathon, likely to take a decade or more to resolve itself. Nevertheless, I support such an action, for two important reasons.

First (and most of all): they deserve it. Google cheats. Companies should grow by creating and improving products people love, not by buying and killing nascent competitors, merging with major competitors, or creating vertical monopolies.


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Google isn't an "inventing things" company, it's a "buying things" company. The in-house product success tally is approximately 1.5 (one great search engine and a pretty good Hotmail clone). The other successes were acquisitions.

They buy dozens - even hundreds - of companies per year. The in-house products they produce (G+, Sidewalk Labs, etc) flop. They're using access to capital to dominate the market, not technical excellence.


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Then there's the second reason to favor antitrust action: it will discipline both Google and the entirety of Big Tech by showing exactly how awful being dragged up and down 1000 miles of interstate by antitrust lawyers for 10 years can be.

The way that antitrust alters the dynamics of a boardroom is hard to overstate. I've seen it in person.


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More importantly, I've heard detailed accounts from ex-Microsofties who say that after the DoJ's (unsuccessful!) antitrust action, anyone who mooted doing stuff that would attract more scrutiny was shouted down by everyone else.

Don't take my word for it. Bill Gates flat-out admitted it last year, telling the Dealbook conference that Microsoft missed acquiring Android because it was "distracted" by antitrust action - except that Android happened SEVEN YEARS later.


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I don't think he misspoke. I think he was telling the literal truth: seven years after the DoJ walked away from the action, the company's vicious streak was still contained by fear of antitrust enforcement.

Indeed, it was that same fear of the antitrust enforcer's scrutiny that is widely credited with staying Microsoft's hand when Google was still small and fragile, sparing it Netscape's fate.


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Which means that a protracted, expensive fight with Google over antitrust is a feature, not a bug. A brutal, extended round of antimonopoly trench warfare will terrify the sociopaths of Silicon Valley's boardrooms.

And while that terror is a poor substitute for empathy and decency, it's as close as we're likely to get in that cohort, and I'll take it if I can get it.


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