Tech & The District » antitrust Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Antitrust in a Web 2.0 World Thu, 30 Jul 2009 20:17:01 +0000 Vanessa Truskey Here is a follow up post on antitrust from our guest blogger Mitchell Derman, vice president in H&K’s Corporate Practice.  If you need a refresher, you can read Mitch’s original blog post by clicking here.


Antitrust in a Web 2.0 World

This past June, I posted a blog entry about antitrust and its relationship with the technology sector.  I had raised the question about whether or not the current antitrust laws could meet the dynamic challenges of a Web 2.0 world.  Well, the legal and policy pundits now have their first real opportunity with Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s announcement yesterday about a shared search deal.

Needless to say, but a truly interesting development with Yahoo fending off Microsoft’s acquisition attempts last year.  Now, Yahoo – an Internet pioneer – essentially is getting out of the search business and focusing more on content – a risky, yet bold move.  And, Microsoft, after years of attempts to counter Google’s market leadership in search appears to have a winner with Bing.

From an antitrust perspective, the central issue is: Can two companies partner to create more competition in search advertising.  Google really needs to be careful in how it positions itself; how it shapes a pro-competitive message when it is the dominant player in search advertising is indeed a challenge.  Only time will tell.

For more insights on the Yahoo/Microsoft deal, read Rob Pegoraro’s piece in today’s Washington Post.

Note: H&K does work for Yahoo! and Microsoft in various locations around the world.

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Antitrust & Tech 2: The Sequel? Wed, 10 Jun 2009 14:26:51 +0000 Vanessa Truskey The editors at “Tech & The District” are always striving to bring you the best thinking from a variety of perspectives at Hill & Knowlton.  Thus, we are proud to present the second of what we hope to be many guest blog posts from our colleagues in the DC office.  This perspective comes from H&K’s Mitchell Derman, a vice president in the Corporate Practice.  As always, we welcome your comments.  Enjoy! -Vanessa

Antitrust & Tech 2:  The Sequel?

By Mitchell Derman

 The year was 1995.  We were probably in a Web .50 world when the Internet was just starting to become a platform for day-to-day communications and information.  Microsoft was about to launch its most anticipated operating system with Windows 95.  At the same time, Microsoft was drawn into a legal and perception battle related to antitrust issues.  Microsoft was consistently chastised by competitors, media and the government for alleged monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior. 

The large issue centered primarily on the integration of the Internet Explorer browser with the operating system. Remember Netscape.  At the time, that company probably had about 95 percent of the browser market.  My oh my, have times changed.  When it came to antitrust, the pundits questioned the validity of laws and regulations created during the industrial age. 

Flash forward to 2009.  Google is now perceived by many as the monopolist and Microsoft is on the other side of the argument.  How ironic is that?  Interestingly, Google often makes the claim that they are one click away from obsolescence.  That may be a stretch; however, with Facebook having 200 million members, this certainly is not far from reality.  But it also begs the same question as 14 years ago. Are the current antitrust laws modern enough to deal with the challenges of a Web 2.0 world?  Companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and others are certainly being tested as the Department of Justice has started an inquiry about collusion related to recruiting talent.  See Washington Post article.

The pundits certainly can debate the legalities of this policy debate. In the meantime some lessons learned from Microsoft’s experience in the 1990s:

  • Engage key stakeholders across the policy spectrum – locally and in Washington
  • Be more modest about how you message your business objectives – being too aggressive could be perceived negatively
  • Educate your employees about what is said in e-mail; I believe the Microsoft case was one of the first instances where e-mails proved to be a smoking gun
  • Educate consumers about the benefits you are delivering with lower prices and more innovation.
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