It was an eventful—and decidedly negative—summer for Silicon Valley. In August the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, not only sending shockwaves through the grocery business but adding to growing anxieties about Amazon’s dominance of the larger retail industry.
Amazon. Google. Facebook. Twitter. These are the most powerful and influential tech platforms of the modern economy, and the headlines over the last few weeks underscore the degree to which these firms have accumulated an outsized influence on our economic, political, and social life. To many, including acting FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen, the status quo is great: the benefits to consumers—from cheap prices to easy access to information to rapid delivery of goods and services—outweigh greater regulation, lest policymakers undermine Silicon Valley innovation.