Why Silicon Valley should fear U.S. v AT&T

by on September 1, 2011 · 3 comments

On Forbes this morning, I argue that the Department of Justice’s effort to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger signals a dangerous turn in antitrust enforcement.

While President Obama promised during his campaign to “reinvigorate” antitrust, few expected the agency would turn its attention with such laser-like precision on the technology sector, one of the few bright spots in the economy.  But as Comcast, Google, Intel, Oracle and now AT&T can testify, the agency seems determined to make its mark on the digital economy.  If only it had the slightest idea how that economy actually worked, and why it works so well.

Silicon Valley should take careful note of the dark turn in the agency’s view of what constitutes competitive harm.  But if experience is any guide, they probably won’t.  The tech community believes that if they ignore Washington, it isn’t really there, and explains away contrary evidence as random catastrophe, as unpredictable as an earthquake in Virginia.

Regardless of how this case resolves itself, that’s increasingly a dangerous attitude for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and tech leaders.  It’s morning in Palo Alto.  But is anyone awake?

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