I participated in a meeting with White House officials today alongside fellow technologists and entrepreneurs. We had a frank and productive discussion about the state of competition in the technology economy. For more than a decade we’ve been fighting for legislation that puts monopoly power in check, and I am encouraged by the leadership that the White House and a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Members of Congress are currently showing on competition policy in the United States.
I shared Yelp’s perspective on the local search market. When a mom does a search for a “pediatrician” in “Washington, DC” today, instead of being matched with the best information from across the web, she is unwittingly steered into a walled garden powered exclusively by Google review content. This type of mismatching happens billions of times per week in the United States alone, and it’s bad for consumers and honest small businesses. Google could easily interoperate with third party services and produce higher quality results, but they instead engage in a form of self-dealing which is anticompetitive and harms consumers. This form of self-dealing is what The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will prevent, if passed.
This is a critical week for the fate of antitrust policy in the United States, with consideration of Senator Klobuchar and Senator Grassley’s legislation in a markup hearing. Yelp was proud to join over forty companies and technologists including Quora, Patreon, Beeper, Initialized Capital, Sonos, and so many others in expressing our strong support for U.S. Senate Bill 2992. The narrowly tailored legislation would go a long way in preventing the most egregious self-dealing by companies like Google. As Big Tech shovels tens of millions of dollars into astroturf campaigns purporting to represent the voice of entrepreneurs and future innovators, we were thrilled to have Y Combinator sign onto the letter. It would be hard to find a starker contrast between Y Combinator – the most elite group of innovators in the technology sector – and the front groups claiming to speak on behalf of startups about this bill.
If measured by market capitalization, the largest company that signed yesterday’s letter is about one thousandth the size of our country’s largest Big Tech firm. Make no mistake: this debate is between hollow and deeply dishonest attempts by companies like Google to spread misinformation versus smaller, scrappier companies that are trying to do right by consumers while competing fiercely in a market that is currently rigged against them.
I deeply appreciated the opportunity to share Yelp’s perspective with the White House. Congress must act now if we are to protect consumers and restore a vibrant and dynamic market based on free and fair competition.