Groups Praise Big Tech Impact on Small Business

One of the big knocks on Big Tech is that the government has allowed it to gobble up smaller startups and anticompetitively hurt smaller competitors lacking the resulting scale and resources.

But in a Hill hearing Thursday, a couple of witnesses said that, on balance, tech giants have been a net positive for businesses and consumers.

"On the whole, Internet platforms play a positive role in helping businesses of all sizes deal with these changes," Innovation Technology & Innovation Foundation senior fellow Joe Kennedy told the House Small Business Committee. The changes he was talking about were the challenges of a global economy driven by "a ubiquitous Internet that lets consumers quickly compare prices, find reviews, and shop online." ITIF is on the record as suggesting Big Tech is unfairly getting a bad rap.

He said that where large companies gain their large market share by competing fairly with small business, policymakers should welcome, not oppose, that.

'We should not enact new, restrictive laws or engage in new antitrust practices simply to rein in some of America’s most productive companies," he said.

The key issue for policymakers is to determine if that competition is, indeed, fair, or whether it is anticompetitive, a point that Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim has been making as DOJ investigates how social media giants got that way and whether antitrust law needs to change to meet the challenges of that internet-driven economy.

Related: Big Tech Gets Small Business Committee Vetting

Also weighing in with the committee was Jake Ward of the Connected Commerce Council, who went so far as to say that small business's story was "simple and straightforward": [L]arge, data-intensive digital platforms such as Google, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Yelp, and countless others benefit their businesses, help them compete, and accelerate their success."

The council bills itself as the voice of small business, but its partner companies--donors--include Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Ward gets some pushback on that cheery assessment from the small businesses who have told Congress that Google favored its own content in a search world where Google rankings are crucial to success, and that Amazon has favored its own products on its dominant online sales market.

And as to the calls by Elizabeth Warren and others to break up, or at least shake up, Big Tech, Ward dismissed those, or essentially any adjustment to the present marketplace, as bad for business of any size. "Any changes to this delicate ecosystem, let alone breaking up the largest companies, would result in fewer free or low-cost tools and services available," he said. "And it will be small businesses that pay the price.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.