Apple and Microsoft moves, Google C-suite firings suggest early antitrust impact

Also: Facebook trial is underway as George Soros turns on fellow Democrat Sheryl Sandberg

Hope everyone had a great long weekend… btw, who cued the locusts?

Real question: Is Google already breaking itself up?

The unmistakable clearing of Alphabet’s C-suite is unprecedented among successful Silicon Valley companies. In the past 10 weeks, both co-founders, the head of controversial AI unit Deep Mind, the chief legal officer, and the head of HR were all removed (though the co-founders will remain on the Board due to their ownership stakes). The company’s much-vaunted Moon Shot and market-expansion projects are getting trimmed — Google Station and Power Kite are the latest to be shuttered. Among the first actions of its newly elevated CEO: A conciliatory trip to DC, followed by public departures with previous company views. And in a first, Google broke out YouTube financials in its most recent earnings announcement — a common move when conglomerates plan transactions for a subsidiary.

The only thing more notable than the items in the list above is the speed with which they are happening. Of note: This hasn’t been a classic investor-driven sequence, even though shareholders clearly like the decisions (the cofounders were ousted on December 3, 2019):

So what’s going on?

Related:


TODAY IN…

DEEP TECH:

MEDIA & TELECOM:

HEALTHCARE TECH:

  • Politico sounds the alarm over Silicon Valley / Big Data hidden agendas for patient data … See also: Google Health, the company’s newest product area and fifth healthcare-focused business unit, has ballooned to more than 500 employees

  • 14 cybersecurity clauses to know for healthcare technology contracts

FINANCE:

  • Facebook’s $9 billion tax evasion trial is underway in San Francisco, putting the company under the same kind of legal scrutiny Apple and Google previously faced. Just prior to the trial, ProPublica revealed internal Facebook documents showing it structured operations to limit tax, including comments from Sheryl Sandberg saying the company needed to follow Google’s example and find “a low taxed jurisdiction to park profits.” The outlet also reported similar efforts by Microsoft around some $39 billion in profits … See also: Medtronic, a top-tier medical equipment maker, is fighting a ($1.4 billion) transfer pricing adjustment made by the IRS over intellectual property licensed to an offshore affiliate

  • Apple and Microsoft shares now represent nearly 10% of the S&P 500 — the last time two stocks had such weight: 1982

PUBLIC POLICY:

  • The European Commission loudly rejected Facebook’s proposal on how it should be regulated, after recently deepening its probe into the company’s data collection practices. Multiple officials made public statements about Mark Zuckerberg’s detachment from reality, including demanding the company take more responsibility for illegal material on its platforms:

Um…

And finally…