The CEOs of four of the world’s largest and most influential tech companies are set to testify Wednesday before a House of Representatives antitrust panel, and plan to emphasize how their products improve the lives and jobs of Americans.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com Inc. AMZN,
, Tim Cook of Apple Inc. AAPL,
, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc. FB,
and Sundar Pichai of the parent company of Google Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,
It will appear via video conference beginning at noon Eastern.
The Chamber’s Judicial Branch Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to question executives, who have never appeared before lawmakers together, about their business practices and their influence on the lives of consumers.
Read: Congress has over a million documents from Big Tech’s antitrust investigation, and they’re ready to criticize big-name CEOs
According to prepared statements released Tuesday night, this is what everyone will say:
Bezos’ opening statement is full of personal anecdotes, with stories about how his parents and grandparents influenced him. About his grandfather: “He taught me that you can face difficult problems. When he has a backhand, he goes back up and tries again. You can invent your way to a better place. “
Bezos emphasizes Amazon’s focus on customer service. “By obsessively focusing on customers, we are driven internally to improve our services, add benefits and features, invent new products, lower prices, and speed up shipping times – before we have to. … Not all companies adopt this first customer approach, but we do, and it is our greatest strength. “
He cites positive survey figures for the Amazon brand, noting Amazon’s billions of dollars of investment in the US and its massive workforce, including stories about an Amazon worker and outside vendors.
As for the competition, he says “there is room in retail for many winners,” and points to competitors like Walmart, Target and Costco, as well as startups like Shopify and Instacart. “The range of retail competitors and related services is constantly changing, and the only real constant in retail is customers’ desire for lower prices, better selection, and convenience.” Amazon’s 49% market share in online retail spending, as of 2018, is not stated.
Bezos also says that his company is not above scrutiny.
“I think Amazon should be analyzed. We should look at all the big institutions, be they companies, government agencies, or nonprofits. Our responsibility is to ensure that we pass such scrutiny with great success, ”he writes.
Bezos closes by praising the late Representative John Lewis and saying that despite the challenges the country is currently facing, from racial inequality to the coronavirus and climate change, “I have never been more optimistic about our future.”
Cook begins his statement also by praising Lewis and his legacy. He skips any personal anecdote and jumps to the point, saying: “Apple is an exclusively American company whose success is only possible in this country.”
He says Apple is focused on doing the best products, not necessarily plus, and that his focus is always on the client. Cook notes a saying from co-founder Steve Jobs: “We only do things that we would recommend to our family and friends.”
Cook points to Apple’s high customer satisfaction with its products, saying it is “the best measure” that the company is on the right track.
He says Apple doesn’t have a dominant market share in any category, noting that the “fiercely competitive” smartphone market features rivals like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Huawai and Google.
As for the App Store, the focus of many of the antitrust complaints and the source of about $ 15 billion a year, taken from a 30% cut in sales, Cook says app developers “set prices for your apps and never pay for shelf space. ” . “
“For the vast majority of apps on the App Store, developers keep 100% of the money they earn,” he says, claiming that for apps that are subject to commissions, Apple’s fees are cheaper than distribution. of software before the development of the App Store. That can be a bit misleading, as Apple requires consumer apps to have in-app registrations and payments, so Apple may take a cut, a policy that the Hey email startup recently got pissed off at.
Cook boasts that the Apple ecosystem has helped create nearly 2 million jobs in the US and contributed half a trillion dollars in world trade in 2019, “nothing short of an economic miracle.” It also signals Apple’s investments in education and its commitment to privacy.
Cook calls the scrutiny “reasonable and appropriate” and says the company approaches the audience “with respect and humility,” although he says “we don’t compromise on the facts.”
“I share the subcommittee’s belief that competition is a great virtue,” he says, “that it promotes innovation, that it makes room for the next big idea and that it gives consumers more choice.”
Zuckerberg presents his statement as an elementary school essay, organized into eight sections.
“Facebook is part of an industry that has changed the world,” he says in his introduction. “I am proud to uphold American values, such as giving each person a voice and expanding access to opportunities.”
He says Facebook competes globally, and that “Our history would not have been possible without the laws of the United States that foster competition and innovation. I believe that a sound and consistent competition policy is vital because it ensures that the field of game is level for everyone. ”
He also emphasizes that “Facebook is a proudly American company,” but warns that “there is no guarantee that our values will succeed.” For example, China is building their own version of the Internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries. ”
As for his acquisitions, a major point of antitrust contention, Zuckerberg says they have helped drive innovation. “Acquisitions bring together the complementary strengths of different companies,” he says. “The bottom line is better services that deliver more value to people and advertisers, which is a central goal of Facebook’s acquisition strategy.”
Zuckerberg also leans a little off topic. “I know that our main goal at this hearing is to talk about competition and antitrust issues, but with four top technology CEOs appearing before Congress, we also have an opportunity to talk about how technology can best serve society. … I hope that at least part of today’s audience touches the future and how our collective scale and resources could be leveraged to help people and businesses. “
He concludes on a slightly defensive note: “As I understand our laws, companies are not bad just because they are big. Many large companies that do not compete cease to exist. That is why we are focused on building and updating our products to provide people with the best possible experiences. … I have long believed that the nature of our industry is that one day a product will replace Facebook. I want us to be the ones to build it, because if we don’t, someone else will. “
Pichai, an immigrant from India, begins with the topic of opportunities, both personally and globally. “Deep down, a discussion about competition is a discussion about opportunity,” he says.
“Our work would not be possible without the long tradition of American innovation, and we are proud to contribute to its future,” he says, highlighting Google’s 75,000 American employees and US investments estimated at $ 20 billion in 2018, and that the Tech giant has been among the top five American investors in the past three years.
Pichai uses personal stories from Google users and how their products help Main Street people and businesses.
It also touts Google’s investments in technology for America’s future, saying that “our engineering teams are helping the United States consolidate its position as a world leader in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, and quantum computing.”
Regarding competition, he says that Google’s success is not guaranteed and points to highly competitive global markets. “Today’s competitive landscape is nothing like 5 years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search,” he says.
It also claims that consumers have benefited from the lower advertising prices. “For example, competition in ads (from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast and others) has helped reduce online advertising costs by 40% in the past 10 years, with these savings passed on to consumers through lower prices”.
He concludes by emphasizing Google’s commitments to user privacy, although he says that “more must be done to protect users in all industries” and ensuring “America’s competitive technological advantage in the world.”