Should Google Be Broken Up?

There is a nascent movement afoot to have big companies broken up similar to what Teddy Roosevelt did back at the turn of the last century. If you went to public school, you were educated that the “robber barons” were bad people. The evidence is contrary and the only thing they did was amass fortunes.

Flash forward to the present. Look at the FANG companies. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google. There are some conservative leaning people that want them broken up because it’s tough to be a conservative in Silicon Valley. It is tough to be a conservative in startup circles for sure.  On the left, I have seen the same sentiment. They worry that too much of their data and privacy is being accumulated in one place by one firm and that Dr. Evil could do something bad to them.  Certainly, these people are correct.  Facebook et al have a lot of data on you.

It’s not just private companies that are collecting data on you.  Under the Homeland Security Act, the government is collecting reams of data on all of us.  Personally, I fear the government more than a company.

I have to be honest.  After carefully considering it there might be some things we can do to limit the power of a company like Facebook, Google etc.  It’s been shown that Google’s search engine has bias in it.  Facebook’s newsfeed could have the same bias.  Twitter could bias their stream.  They are private companies and make their own decisions on what to do with their product.

It’s my choice whether to use them or not.

The truth is, using Amazon is a pretty damn convenient way to get goods to my home.  The economics make sense for me.  Using Facebook is a good way to connect with my friends, make new friends, create a brand.  The economics work for me.  Twitter is a good way to get breaking news.  The economics work for me.  Google is great search-although I have switched all of my search engines to DuckDuckGo.  Gmail is great though.  Google Calendar is great.  Google sheets etc are great.

Busting them up isn’t going to solve a problem that needs to be solved.  It might make some people feel good.  But, it’s the wrong thing to do.

The right thing to do is create an environment that is hyper-competitive.  Whenever I see government step in, competition goes away and the big players consolidate and get bigger.  Having an environment where new companies can startup and potentially compete with big incumbents is good.  If you recall, Kodak was one of the most innovative companies of the 20th century.  Where are they now?

There are technological movements afoot that could topple some big companies.  Blockchain is one of them.  Before we break them up, let’s wait and see what happens.  In the meantime, make different purchasing choices.