A vacuum of innovation
The following is a journal article that I wrote for UGBA 107: The Social, Political, and Ethical Environment of Business. The opinions below were written in an academic context and may or may not reflect my actual opinions on the subject matter.
In early February, the FTC announced an inquiry into Big Tech’s purchase history: specifically, an analysis of the acquisitions large corporations have made over the past ten years. Supporters of the inquiry assert that companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are stifling competitors by acquiring early-stage companies that may prove to be a threat to their business models. These practices result in a startup ecosystem focused on satisfying Big Tech’s needs, rather than solving larger global issues.
Over the past decade, investments in tech have been dominated by acquisition-focused mentalities: investment firms have poured millions of dollars of capital into startups that are founded with the intention of being acquired by corporations. As a result, these aggressive practices have created incentives to start and grow companies Marketo, Magneto, and ADP (source); niche companies that have been silently acquired by Big Tech. The focus on funding these companies divert attention from impact-oriented startups focusing on solving larger, more important problems than optimizing network compression architectures by micro-percents. Moreover, the tech industry has been saturated by companies focused on building products to sustain the growth of Big Tech: productivity tools, specifically, are on the rise, with companies like Airtable and Notion capitalizing on the substantial bureaucracy involved with managing large workforces. With an ever-increasing demand and steady source of income, these companies are attracting computer scientists across the workforce, creating a vacuum focused on satisfying the growth and development of large monopolies.
Rather than attempt to regulate Big Tech through anti-trust lawsuits, the government should support investments in impact-focused entrepreneurs and create pathways for the workforce to join and stay at early-stage companies. Addressing the dominance of these corporations must come from aggressive job creation and growth at ventures that help Americans, not corporations.