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Antitrust

Countdown: 14 days until Google-Yahoo DOJ Deadline

Only 14 short days until Google-Yahoo's September 25th deadline for DOJ to complete its review of their proposed advertising partnership...

  • Adding some drama to the deadline, the San Francisco Chronicle captured Google's CEO Eric Schmidt's, 'make my day' attitude toward the DOJ review of his ad deal: 
    • ""We are going to move forward with it," ...after being asked whether the companies would wait for the Justice Department to complete its review."
    • Google's defiant attitude brings to mind a twist on another of my favorite movie quotes: "Approval! We don't need no stinkin approval!" 

Under section 16 of the redacted Google-Yahoo agreement submitted to the SEC, the companies gave the DOJ 105 days from June 12th  -- that's September 25, 2008, to complete their antitrust review (Google-Yahoo can extend that review deadline if they choose to). 

  • There is another interesting deadline in the Google-Yahoo agreement -- October 11 or 120 days after June 12th. 
    • Importantly, after October 11th either Google or Yahoo can terminate the agreement to "avoid or end a lawsuit" filed by antitrust authorities. They can also terminate the agreement if a court blocks the deal.

Past experience suggests Google won't back down easily if Justice challenges the agreement, given that Google routinely snubs its nose at U.S. governmental authority:

The Irresponsibility of Google's 'Publicacy' Mission -- claims another innocent bystander -- United Airlines

Can you trust Google to responsibly exercise its power? Google's crusade to make all information accessible -- no matter what -- has indiscriminately mowed down another innocent bystander.

  • United Airlines stock value lost three quarters of its value on Monday ravaging spooked UAL shareholders.
  • Google's Googlebot 'crawlers' mistook a 2002 article about UAL's 2002 bankruptcy -- as a new and current story -- which when wrongly spread efficiently by GoogleNews alerts to everyone interested in United Airlines, freaked out current shareholders who dumped all their stock. Oops. Ouch. But no apology from Google...  
    • Two good Wall Street Journal stories yesterday and today explain Google's culpability in this disaster for UAL pretty well. 
    • This is a stark reminder, that anything that a Googlebot can crawl, it will make public. It will leave no digital rock unturned to find whatever is under a rock -- never mind if it was hidden for good reason, privacy, security, ownership -- Googlebot say "finders keepers losers weepers."

This latest UAL incident highlights a clear pattern of Google's 'publicacy' philosophy that any information Google can find, copy or photograph -- it should put immediately into the public domain whether it is accurate information, private unauthorized information, or information owned/copyrighted by others.  

Google's Biggest Customers Oppose Goohoo Ad Pact!

Google, you have a problem. The verdict of your biggest customers is in -- and you've been found guilty of not pursuing your clients' best interests.

  • The ANA, the nation's largest association of advertisers and marketers representing ~9,000 brands, just wrote the DOJ formally recommending that the DOJ oppose the Google-Yahoo advertising partnership as anti-competitive.  

I have two big takeaways for you:

  • First, despite the ANA letter, Google continues to claim that Google knows better what's best for their advertiser clients than their advertiser clients do.
  • Second, at core, the DOJ is investigating the Google Yahoo ad pact for illegal price fixing collusion; this is relevant because DOJ antitrust chief Tom Barnett has stated that prosecution of price fixing is his Division's highest enforcement priority.

First Takeaway: Google clearly doesn't subscribe to the old adage -- the customer is always right. Google knows best and isn't afraid to tell most of its biggest customers they are wrong -- in public. 

Rather than publicly respond to the anticipated ANA letter with respectful comments about how Google looks forward to better explaining how the ad pact will benefit Google's customers, Google essentially wagged their finger at their customers in public telling them they don't know what's best for themselves.  

ABC columnist on Google: 'amoral'? 'Big Brother'?

ABC columnist Michael S. Malone used some real tough words to describe Google: 'amoral" (twice), 'sinister' (twice), 'Big Brother' (thrice), -- in his column: "Is Google turning into Big Brother?"  

It's a worthwhile read for Googlephiles because it highlights some impotant information Google would like to brush under the rug.

Google's online advertising dominance grows -- Don't forget the pending DOJ investigation...

Google's dominance of the Internet's business model for monetizing content only grows.

  • "Gap widens in online advertising: Rivals struggle to catch up to Google as buyers favor search over display" reports Jessica Vascellaro in the Wall Street Journal.
  • The article's conclusion is dead on and ominous -- the gap between Google and its competitors in online advertising is widening and will continue to do so because the business that Google dominates, search advertising, is growing significantly faster than display advertising is.

As I read the article, I thought many involved in the FTC's investigation and subsequent 4-1 approval of the Google-DoubleClick merger must be getting awfully worried that they made a big mistake in not appropriately enforcing antitrust law last year when they had the opportunity.

If you want honey, don't kick the beehive! -- Google to DOJ: We're going ahead with Yahoo regardless

Google is so arrogant it isn't even aware it is being arrogant.

Per a San Francisco Chronicle article:

  • "Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. will start a high-profile advertising partnership by early October, even if federal regulators haven't yet approved the deal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Thursday.
  • "We are going to move forward with it," Schmidt said in an interview on Bloomberg television after being asked whether the companies would wait for the Justice Department to complete its review."

Let's put this Google behavior into a little context.

DOJ antirust prosecutors are currently involved in a serious antitrust investigation of the Google-Yahoo online advertising partnership for potential Sherman Act collusion/price-fixing illegality.

  • By declaring that Google is going ahead with the Yahoo partnership, with or without approval of the DOJ -- Google is not so subtly telling the DOJ -- "we'll see you in court," "try stopping us, if you can." 
  • What words come to mind to describe Google's public behavior and effective declaration of legal war by their CEO?
    • Arrogant? insolent? disrespectful? defiant? impolitic? inflamatory? tactless? imprudent? unwise? or just downright dumb?   

Bottom line: Normal companies, who respect the rule of law and law enforcement authorities, understand the old adage that "if you want honey, don't kick the beehive."

  • But Google is not normal, its special -- it has a "don't-be-evil motto" "get out of jail free card." No jail is big enough to hold Google! 

Let me leave you with this analogy:

Must read Google piece in Guardian; "Google... big friendly giant or greedy Goliath?"

Kudos to David Smith of the Gaurdian Observer for his outstanding piece on Google as it turns ten years old.

  • Its a must read for anyone interested in Google or the future of the Internet. 

Some of my favorite insights from the piece are highlighted below:  

Google Search as the Universal Remote?

Does Google inherently favor its Google-owned applications over competitors in search results? The more one looks, the more it looks that way.

Saturday's New York Times article: "Some Media companies choose to profit from pirated YouTube clips" -- got me thinking about the anti-competitive nature of Google's increasing dominance of the process of locating copyrighted content online.

Additional evidence of Google's bias for its own content -- not a neutral search advertising platform

GoogleBlogoscoped has flagged additional evidence that Google anti-competitively favors its own content over competitors in a good post: "Google allows itself a special ad."

  • This complements my post earlier this week: "New evidence of Google search bias -- Its relevant to DOJ investigation of Google-Yahoo ad-deal."

The case builds...

Bottom line: How the DOJ ultimately rules on the Google-Yahoo ad partnership will tell us a lot about how much of the future online content economy Google will be allowed to de facto control.  

New evidence of Google search bias -- Its relevant to DOJ investigation of Google-Yahoo ad-deal

Does Google anti-competitively leverage its dominance in search to disadvantage its competitors, including Google's media competitors? New evidence suggests yes.

  • A nod of thanks must go to GoogleBlogoscoped and innovator Timo Paloheimo who invented a derivative search engine, Google Minus Google, for the clever purpose of offering "Search with Google without getting results from Google sites such as Knol, Blogger and YouTube."
    • Mr. Paloheimo explains that he was inspired to create Google minus Google by the New York Times important article by Miguel Helft: "Is Google a media company?"
    • This suggests that a lot of people, when they connect-the-dots of Google's dominance in search and Google's aggressive competitive forays into everyone else's business, will have a similar eureka moment that Google is anti-competitively extending its dominance in search to other market segments.

The evidence shows Google is not a neutral search engine or a neutral wholesaler of search services.

As I will show below:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths