Video: Lessons from the “Hall of Fallen Giants”

by on March 17, 2021 · 0 comments

Here’s a new animated explainer video that I narrated for the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project. The 3-minute video discusses how earlier “tech giants” rose and fell as technological innovation and new competition sent them off to what the New York Times once appropriately called “The Hall of Fallen Giants.” It’s a continuing testament to the power of “creative destruction” to upend and reorder markets, even as many pundits insist that there’s no possibility change can happen.

This is an important lesson for us to remember today, as I noted in the recent editorial for The Hill about why, “Open-ended antitrust is an innovation killer“:

Those who worry about today’s largest tech giants becoming supposedly unassailable monopolies should consider how similar fears were expressed not so long ago about other tech titans, many of which we laugh about today. Just 14 years ago, headlines proclaimed that “MySpace Is a Natural Monopoly,” and asked, “Will MySpace Ever Lose Its Monopoly?” We all know how that “monopoly” ceased to exist.

At the same time, pundits insisted “Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone,” since “there is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive.” The smartphone market of that era was viewed as completely under the control of BlackBerry, Palm, Motorola and Nokia. A few years prior to that, critics lambasted the merger of AOL and TimeWarner as a new corporate “Big Brother” that would decimate digital diversity and online competition.

Accordingly, policymakers should be humble and recognize that, “it’s better to let rivalry and innovation emerge organically,” and only bring in the wrecking ball of heavy-handed antitrust regulation as a last resort, I argued. Technological change and entrepreneurialism has a way of upending and reordering markets when we least expect it. Just ask all those members of the Hall of Fallen Giants.

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