Tag: probe

06
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

US antitrust probe finds ‘alarming pattern’ of innovation-stifling practices

The United States House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee has wrapped up its probe into Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google, with its 450-page report [PDF], making a slate of recommendations, including those it said would strengthen antitrust laws and restore competition in the digital economy.

“As they exist today, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy,” Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement.

“In recent years, each company has expanded and exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways.

“Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy.”

The subcommittee kicked off its inquiries over 16 months ago. Democrat Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said investigations led the subcommittee to the conclusion that self-regulation by Big Tech comes at the expense of communities, small businesses, consumers, the free press, and innovation.

“Our investigation revealed an alarming pattern of business practices that degrade competition and stifle innovation,” Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL) added.

“These companies have made remarkable advancements that have shaped our markets and our culture, but their anticompetitive acts have come at a cost … competition must reward the best idea, not the biggest corporate account.”

Although not agreeing on who was to blame for allowing “Big Tech” to achieve near-monopoly status, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) agreed that these “predatory companies” have used their vast size to unfairly harm competition and consumers.  

On Facebook, the subcommittee said it found evidence of “monopolisation and monopoly power” in the social networking market. It also said that of its nearly-100 acquisitions, the Federal Trade Commission engaged in an extensive investigation of just

30
Sep
2020
Posted in technology

Fraud claims, DOJ probe and sexual abuse allegations cloud $2B deal between GM and Nikola truck startup

What seemed like a simple matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s has turned into a protracted challenge for General Motors and Nikola, after negotiations to pair up and produce new zero-emissions trucks have been extended.

The $2 billion deal, announced Sept. 9, was billed as a “partnership made in heaven,” according to Nikola founder and then-chairman Trevor Milton, during a media call with GM CEO Mary Barra. But the Phoenix-based startup has since been hammered by claims of fraud, with a Securities and Exchange Commission probe now underway. Allegations surfaced this week of sexual abuse by Milton, who stepped down as chairman last week. Nikola’s stock has plunged to barely a quarter of what it was worth when the company went public last June.

Talks expected to wrap up today could now run through Dec. 3, at which time the proposed deal “may be terminated by either (Nikola) or GM Holdings if the closing has not occurred,” according to a Nikola filing with the SEC.

“Nikola continues to work with GM towards a closing and will provide further updates when appropriate or required,” a Nikola spokesperson said in a statement sent to NBC News and echoed by GM. Separately, the startup issued a statement outlining its various business ventures, an apparent response to Wall Street’s growing concerns about the company.

Describing itself as a “a technology disruptor and integrator” aimed at becoming a “global leader,” it emphasized that it has a number of other ventures in the works, including a deal with European truck maker Iveco, while it is moving ahead on the launch of a factory in Arizona that will produce its heavy-duty hydrogen trucks.

Founded in Salt Lake City in 2014, Nikola Motors planned to produce large semi-trucks using fuel cells, rather than conventional diesel