CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google to testify before US Congress

For over a year, the Congress have been investigating the four tech companies

logos-facebook-google-amazon via Reuters

CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will testify to a panel of lawmakers in the Congress investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance, or expand, a Reuters report reads.

For over a year, Congress has been investigating the four tech companies.

The CEOs plan to argue in a congressional hearing on antitrust on Wednesday that they face intense competition from each other and other rivals. The testimony from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook, which was released Tuesday, shows the four executives looking over their shoulders at competitors who threaten their companies.

This is the biggest hearing of its kind since Microsoft's Bill Gates went to Washington in 1998. While most of the executives have appeared before Congress previously, none of them has faced a situation of this magnitude.

The companies are currently under scrutiny for various reasons—Amazon for its use of seller data; Apple, over its app store policies; Facebook, for its acquisition strategy and its dominance in online advertising; and Google, for its practices in search and advertising.

The companies are facing multiple probes at federal and state levels and in other countries. Those investigations could lead to lawsuits, fines or other consequences for what have become the world's biggest, wealthiest corporations.

A high-profile questioning as this one definitely will make for a spectacle.

The companies are expected to counter by saying they have helped several entrepreneurs and small businesses, which has helped America, a leader in innovation amid rising competition from China.

Of the four tech executives, most limelight is expected to fall on Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, who has, till date has never testified before the Congress.

Apple's Tim Cook testified in 2013 before the backlash against tech really took hold, and largely came away unscathed; Alphabet's now-CEO, Sundar Pichai, proved cool under pressure in a hearing covering Google's data practices and claims of political bias held by the House Judiciary Committee in late 2018. And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was grilled for 10 hours by the House and Senate about the company's track record on privacy.

Zuckerberg is expected to defend Facebook's acquisitions by saying the social media platform helped companies like WhatsApp and Instagram grow. He is further expected to say that US tech companies face the threat of competition from China, who is building its ‘ version of the internet and exporting their vision to other companies’

Apple's Tim Cook is expected to say that the company "does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business.” He is further expected to argue the company charges a lower commission to software developers to distribute their work before the App Store was launched.

Google’s Pichai in his prepared testimony said, “We know Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving."