Is the ‘Big One’ about to drop on Amazon?

This week, the long-simmering battle between the FTC and Amazon escalates.

If I ran a $1.4T company like Amazon, I would:

FTC vs Amazon
  • End each day looking at the long list of full countries with less money
  • Dive into my gigantic pile of money like Scrooge McDuck
  • Feel invincible

This week, Amazon’s leadership can continue doing the first two, but the “feeling invincible” thing may get a bit harder.

Amazon officials will meet with FTC commissioners, including Chair Lina Khan, ahead of an antitrust lawsuit that threatens to break up its ecommerce empire.

What both sides are thinking

  • FTC: Khan’s agency has various pending cases targeting Google, Meta, Apple, and Microsoft, but this week’s Amazon action — which Bloomberg calls “the Big One” — would be its boldest move yet against Big Tech.
    • The exact scope of the case is still unknown, but is believed to focus on Amazon’s alleged monopolistic treatment of outside sellers, how it rewards some merchants and punishes others.
  • Amazon: The tech giant’s on the offensive, per Ars Technica — accusing the FTC of harassing founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, and seeking to remove Khan (whose rise followed a 2017 paper calling out Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior) from the case.
    • This FTC action is seen as one of the gravest threats to Amazon’s business in its nearly three decades of operation. If the feds win in court, it could eventually result in a forced breakup or restructuring.

What’s next?

A lot more posturing and a lot more time in court for both parties.

This week’s “last rites” meetings offer Amazon one final shot to argue its case before commissioners vote on official antitrust action.

If a suit follows as expected, it’d spend years being litigated, per Politico.

That’d already be a win for the FTC. Its antitrust suits aren’t always pursued with courtroom victories in mind, per Harvard Business Review — they’re a tool to stymie companies it feels have grown too powerful and to discourage future dealmaking.

In the meantime… say it with us, Amazon: “We’ve got more money than Switzerland. We’ve got this.”

Topics: Amazon Regulation

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