Should @jack testify?

Fully Charged
Bloomberg

Hey all, it's Kurt. The world's most influential tech executives will convene on Monday when the CEOs of Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. answer U.S. congressional questions about their immense—and potentially monopolistic—power.

But at least one congressman thinks there's an important technology boss not on the list: Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. "We believe there is bipartisan interest to hear from Twitter about its power in the marketplace, its role in moderating content on its platform, and the causes for its recent highly publicized security breaches," said Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

On Wednesday, Rich Luchette, a spokesman for the antitrust subcommittee's chairman, put the kibosh on the idea of bringing Dorsey along. "He has not been invited," Luchette tweeted.

That likely means that the public won't hear Dorsey's thoughts on Twitter's recent hack, its fact-checking of President Trump's tweets and this week's banning of thousands of accounts associated with the conspiracy theory movement QAnon.

But ultimately, Dorsey not showing up is really only bad news for four people: the other CEOs in the spotlight. Without Twitter to distract the representatives, the tech leaders might actually be compelled to answer tricky questions. 

Typically, these kinds of hearings are a circus—a chance for lawmakers to flex their political muscle and hammer tech executives with blistering questions they may not even be given time to answer. That will probably be the case on Monday when members of Congress are faced with four powerful men running four distinct companies. It's hard to imagine there will be time to drill down on any company-specific issues, even without Dorsey present.

That's too bad, because anticompetitive behavior is a pressing Silicon Valley question, even though Twitter is not an antitrust threat. Facebook and Google control a combined 52.8% of the U.S. digital ad market, according to eMarketer. Twitter, meanwhile, accounts for just 1.1%. Unlike Facebook—which owns Instagram and WhatsApp—Twitter does not own other large apps or services. And unlike Amazon and Apple, it is not expanding aggressively into new business lines, like high-end movies and television. For years, Twitter has simply been trying to turn a profit.

The fact that Twitter was even a consideration for this meeting is a testament to the company's outsized influence. The platform has long punched above its weight in this regard. But it may also be a signal that the committee isn't serious about getting real answers on anti-competitive behavior.

It's possible that Jordan is less worried about Twitter's market share than its policies around speech—a concern shared by many other conservatives, including Trump, who Twitter has called out for violating its rules in recent months. Bringing in Dorsey to testify would have created a sideshow about conservative bias that we've already seen play out many times over.

Even without a Dorsey invite, though, the dustup over Twitter's presence at the hearings undercuts the premise that America's politicians actually care about antitrust. For anyone wondering whether this hearing would lead to anything useful, here's one more sign that it won't. Kurt Wagner

If you read one thing

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia is said to be eyeing a takeover of Arm, the semiconductor designer owned by SoftBank, and once the largest publicly listed tech company in the U.K. SoftBank, which bought Arm in 2016 for $32 billion, had approached Apple about buying the company, but Apple declined to pursue a bid, Bloomberg reported

And here's what you need to know in global technology news

Tesla's Elon Musk has selected Austin, Texas, as the site for the company's second U.S. auto factory and production base for its upcoming Cybertruck. 

Twitter says that hackers accessed the private messages for 36 of the accounts impacted by its high-profile hack last week. That group does not include former U.S. President Barack Obama or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. 

Microsoft's second-quarter earnings were a disappointment after the company reported a slowdown in growth for its Azure cloud-computing business. 

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is part of a suit against YouTube, alleging that it allowed scammers to use his name and likeness as part of a phony bitcoin giveaway.

Join Bloomberg online this Thursday, July 23 for a virtual tech briefing about cyber threats and optimizing security. Featured speakers include Verizon Executive Vice President and Group CEO Tami Erwin, Duo Security co-founder and CTO Jon Oberheide and OneLogin Chief Trust & Security Officer Vanessa Pegueros.

 

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