February 10, 2023 – Capstone believes the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will continue their aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement, accelerating their efforts to bring more cases on a broader set of statutes during the remainder of President Biden’s first term. Neither agency has shown an appetite to slow its activities following unfavorable preliminary verdicts in key cases.
DOJ and the FTC are likely to next challenge Adobe Inc.’s (ADBE) purchase of privately owned Figma and Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) acquisition of iRobot Corp. (IRBT). Of the deals that Big Tech firms have announced in recent years, these two present the best opportunities for the agencies to deliver on the Biden administration’s push for oversight of industry consolidation (see Exhibit 1).
Active cases will reach trial this fall and will be critical milestones that will determine the prospects for future challenges and the legacy of DOJ Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter and FTC Chair Lina Khan (D). Two antitrust cases against Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) also will be heard in the Q4 2023.
Leaders in both parties in Congress retain an appetite to consider proposals to reform antitrust law and competition in technology markets. However, House Republicans have prioritized investigations into how Big Tech firms interact with the government, rendering any significant reform to antitrust law unlikely. We believe narrow measures to regulate mobile app stores may have the highest likelihood of passage.
Overview of US Antitrust Matters Against Big Tech Platforms (as of February 2023)