October 16, 2020 15+ min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
- Moschini mentions several challenges that women entrepreneurs face when raising capital, according to the entrepreneur it is a question that has to do with culture.
Silvina Moschini is CEO and founder of SheWorks! A platform that connects professional women with companies around the world, in the same way, allows them to work remotely and in flexible hours that adjust to their needs and is president of Transparent Business , a remote work team management platform.
While many companies suddenly had to make the transition to remote work in the wake of the pandemic, she already had the advantage of using the necessary software to have people working in a virtual and organized way. “We don’t have offices, we never had them and we won’t have them,” Moschini says.
“Transparent Business is a company that is already worth 500 million dollars today, and by the end of the year we are going to do what is called a mini IPO, a public offering of shares that will take the company to be worth a trillion or 1,000 million, It is as we say, this is going to be at the end of the year. Next year our goal is to carry a large IPO, from $ 10 billion to $ 10 trillion, ”says the entrepreneur.
The challenges women face when undertaking
The businesswoman says that the term “unicorn” corresponds to being able to achieve a larger company and “pink” attributes it to the female leadership style, hence the term pink unicorn.
“It is much more difficult for women to undertake because it is a great challenge for us to make companies that are truly great, among other things because it is very difficult to get capital. In addition to the fact that there are a lot of other factors that make it not very easy for women or we do not get involved in projects that have to do with cove ventures, many times we go for smaller and more beautiful projects, linked to more initiatives. girls, less scalable stuff, and the pink unicorn concept is precisely a $ 1 billion company at least, ”explains Moschini.
Nowadays, it is becoming very fashionable, because traditionally the male leadership style is linked to a tougher, more assertive issue and in times of crisis, women contribute in more inclusive, conversational and participatory ways.
Photo: Courtesy of Silvina Moschini.
“For example, the countries that best handled crises in the world of the pandemic were those with female presidents or leaders and that has a lot to do with leadership, with the feminine style that has not so much to do with gender, but with the way of directing. We women like to listen more, make more committed teams, because people feel that they can participate, give more opportunities, integrate and understand that you have in front of a human being who is going through difficult times and put the person first and then to the function, ”adds Moschini.
Moschini mentions several challenges that women entrepreneurs face when raising capital, according to the entrepreneur it is a question that has to do with culture and that from a young age we were educated in a certain way and those same barriers must be be eliminated.
“Since we were little they taught us that we had to be pretty, sit up straight, be like a princess, that the prince is going to come, he is going to rescue you, that later your problems are going to be solved and that is not done. The reality is that when a prince does not appear and if you are to wait around, they are not enchanted nor does he come in shining armor or he is a disaster. What my dad taught me is what I am looking for too, because I work hard to empower women by helping them to be financially independent, true independence always begins with the wallet, by being able to be the owner of your economic independence, why not You can talk about empowerment only in words if you don’t have money, you are not empowered, ”explains Moschini.
That said, it is very important that, as women entrepreneurs, these cultural obstacles and blockages that are quite ingrained are eliminated.
“The reality is that we can do whatever we want, because we have the capacity to do it, because today women are better prepared than men, and I am not saying this in an airborne way, women achieve the highest number of university degrees, master’s and doctorates, which are acquired at universities. So we are more prepared and these are not opinions, they are numbers ”, adds Moschini.
Take the risk to raise capital, it doesn’t hurt to try
The goal is to change the chip and modify that mentality to celebrate the possibility of being strong, successful women and not living it with guilt. He also mentions that women are hampered when it comes to asking for money and that fear must be lost.
“When women go to ask for money they always ask for it timidly and it shouldn’t be like that. When we are going to request money we have to be more assertive, aggressive and say give me your money, because if you don’t give it to me, you will have the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and you will lose the opportunity to bet on entrepreneurial women, it also applies to any woman who is working in dependency relationship. We work harder, we come better prepared, we produce more and when you transfer it to companies led by women, they have a 21% better return on profits than those run by men. If you don’t have access to capital, you can’t create a great company. In other words, you need money to hire good people and pay them well, ”explains Moschini.
It is also important to remove the impostor syndrome, have the false belief that it does not matter what we do and consider that if you get to lead it was because you were “lucky”.
“We arrived because we are capable and we have to overcome that limit that we often impose on ourselves, we believe that things work out for us because we were in the right place and at the right time. Women do not apply to positions because they feel they are not 120% qualified, while men say yes, – I go there simply – it does not matter that I am 70% or 80% prepared, they dare. It is difficult for women to overpromise and sell ourselves, because we are ashamed, we think that if we are proud and present ourselves as capable people, we are going to make people uncomfortable and make the other person feel bad ”, says the entrepreneur.
Considering the above, women tend to take work very seriously and put in too much effort, which is pretty good. However, she indicates that it should be valued, since what they do has a positive reflection on what others see and on investment funds.
“0.4% of venture capital, investment capital, entrepreneurial capital, Venture Capital – as the United States says – in diverse women entrepreneurs, means that not ‘gringas’, we are diverse, because we are Latinas, while 2% go to American entrepreneurs, that is nothingness itself, “says Moschini.
She tells of her experience, that she went directly with investors, with CEOs of companies and explained that she was doing a company that was going to be worth a lot of money and that it would transform the way companies and people work, that it was going to allow talented women from anywhere in the world to access employment from home, regardless of where they are, in this way they would have the possibility of working for Cisco, Google, Mastercard or any startup in Silicon Valley, because Today the work is remote and you can be at home with a computer and work for the company you want.
Photo: Courtesy of Silvina Moschini
“That is how I raised more than 13 million dollars and I became the first entrepreneur in the world, definitely the first Latina without even having to go to submit to being told that they did not agree to give me investment funds, because it was or very pretty, or very ugly, very tall or short, very fat or very skinny, any excuse. What I want to share for the entrepreneurs is that it can be done, that if I could do it, anyone can do it, because I have nothing different from what we all have. It seems to me that these are the challenges that we have to face so that we can all know that we deserve and that we have enough confidence to be able to achieve what we propose, because we won it and this also applies to request a salary increase and not only for entrepreneurs ”Says Moschini.
What is the current assessment of the market for women?
“I believe that the labor market today with the pandemic for women has the opportunity of the century, because it is a challenge when you think about why women leave the labor market. 51% of moms leave when they have their first or second child, when they become mothers no matter what they studied, how capable they were, what a good job they had, they quit their job due to lack of flexibility, since it is super difficult the power to have a family and to be able to comply with rigid work models. I think that with the pandemic, normalizing remote work opens a whole world of opportunities so that women no longer have to explain to our employer that we can work from home, because they have already seen it, they have already realized that that job that they swore not It could be done, yes it can be done ”, Moschini responds.
The above gives us to understand that there are opportunities for all women, because remote work offers them that flexibility, you can carry out various activities such as traveling, taking care of your children, studying, among many others. For several women it is liberating, because it allows them to be independent both economically and in their availability of schedules, since when you have a fixed schedule from eight to seven in the afternoon, it is not life, after that time, you get up at 6 : 00 am and you have no desire for anything and life is not only work.
“This allows you to say, I am going to grab some clients and I am going to work for them from anywhere, earning an income and depending on what you want to do you can earn more or less, but I think the pandemic brought, as the Chinese say, in the symbol of crisis is danger and opportunity, in this case to change the dynamics of the market to make talented women from all over the world able to work from home or wherever they want and not have to choose between personal life and professional life ”, Moschini points out.
Regarding work, they work from home and their goal is to become the operating system of remote work to make companies of all sizes able to structure teams with technology and flexibility, so that is their mission with the people who work in their team.
“We are hiring many people, there are many people out there who are unemployed today, we seek to invite them to register and look at the open positions, we are with 20 open positions, we are going to add more in our company and we want to have a lot of Mexican talent , for men and women who are super capable and we would love to be able to connect and facilitate their work from our platform ”, adds Moschini.
How to overcome the gender gap?
“One is daring and encouraging ourselves to want to change things. Many companies and people talk about how good it would be, but with that we do not solve, it is actions and not intentions that change reality. The next is to come together, women do a good-bad job of supporting each other. There is a phrase that says that the true queens are the ones who accommodate the crowns between them, however women still feel that we have to compete, instead of helping each other, that is wrong. We grow and evolve raising other people, we must think more about the community. It is also working with men so that they understand that this is not against them, that women’s right is a human right and that it creates better societies where we have people with different points of view and we have to work with men to create a world in which the decision is made in the same way that the world is made up, half by men and half by women. So looking for men as allies. Finally, think big and without limitations ”, says Moschini.
Bearing the above in mind, it is very important to dare, create community and support each other, seek allies and above all to think big, in projects that generate a great impact.
“Being ambitious and not feeling that by being ambitious we are evil, because the use of power by women well used can generate a lot of positive change in society, when women work, we educate the community more, we give back, we create ecosystems that help and each time But this whole circular economy culture is taking shape. We have a project called SheWorks! Academy where with Google, Facebook and the Inter-American Development Bank we educate women online so that they can develop skills so that they can get jobs from home, as community managers or experts in digital communications. I studied communications and I know how important skills in this field are to be successful in the market and that is what we also seek to add with digital skills, so that those who studied the same can understand how it is a fundamental pillar of the operation of all the companies, ”says Moschini.
Photo: Courtesy of Silvina Moschini
Helping to obtain all the aforementioned skills is important, in addition to always having a human quality, not for fashion, but as an intrinsic value.
SheWorks! Academy is an academy that they made online, always being remote first, that is, they never had a paper version and that they are very excited about a project in Guatemala and that now they are working to do it regionally, the girls who are there, Now they are working for Pepsico, Google and other very interesting companies, they never imagined being able to do it.
Current outlook for entrepreneurs
“Regarding entrepreneurs, it is a great opportunity for those who are not digitized, to virtually transform their companies. For example, many companies that had businesses are now going to be able to do social commerce or electronic commerce. In the case of sports centers, you can tailor your classes on the Internet and expand your audiences to clients from all over the world. The transformation opened up a much larger potential market panorama for them. The opportunity also arose to create companies that are already born digital. For example, a good friend of mine who is an incredible Mexican entrepreneur named Ricardo Weder is the founder of a company called Justo MX, it is a 100 percent internet supermarket, you can order your entire market without having to set foot in a store ”Says Moschini.
So, it is a good opportunity to transform businesses to make companies 10 times more agile, economical, effective, inclusive and that can hire women remotely online, have a larger market and without geographical limitations.
“Taking this crisis as a great opportunity to get out of the comfort zone and be encouraged by the need to take a step forward, to accelerate this digital transformation that one way or another was going to happen to them, only that people were putting it off. When there is a crisis it is because the past does not want to go, the present is not ready to enter and this is what the pandemic did, it accelerated the exit from the past, because working in offices was ridiculous, they polluted, it made people waste time , the hours paid did not count for anything, women lost opportunities, it was expensive and now one says it is so obvious that this did not make sense, but why did we keep doing it? and it was because we didn’t have the need to change, ”says Moschini.
“We are planning a very strong landing in Mexico, we have many clients there, such as Telcel, América Móvil, etc., many companies that are super special for us, so our goal is to launch operations in Mexico in the next two months with equipment own, beyond the partners and take the company to a public offering of shares demonstrating that financing can be obtained and create companies that are one hundred percent anchored in technology ourselves ”, concludes Moschini.
Help! My Travel Agency Shut Down and I’m Out $2,000
Dear Tripped Up,
Earlier this year, I used STA Travel to book a British Airways flight from Tucson, Ariz., to South Africa, scheduled to depart in March. Then the pandemic hit, one of the flight legs was canceled and I canceled my trip. After some back and forth, STA secured a refund from British Airways. I was told by an STA representative that my airfare — $2,059.36 — would be credited back to my credit card account within 60 days. Two months came and went. Then I learned that STA had gone out of business. Kaitlin
When I first read your email, I was hit with an inkling of hope that your credit card company could rush in and save the day. Still, I set off to learn more about the laws and policies at play, so I did usually do when I start a Tripped Up column: I emailed some industry sources and started a Google Doc to organize my thoughts.
The notes became a rabbit hole, expanding with news coverage of STA’s collapse, a list of potential interview subjects, email addresses for international press offices and lengthy financial documents. From the chicken scratch, one truth emerged: Anyone attempting to recoup funds from an out-of-business company will likely confront uphill battles, tall orders and every other cliché in the book.
“In general, when a company goes into bankruptcy, basically it’s the vultures picking over the bones,” said Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. “The last people who will get a piece of those bones are going to be the unsecured creditors: the consumers.”
Formerly a major travel agency for youth and student trips, STA Travel filed for bankruptcy in August after a crippling flurry of pandemic-related cancellations; it was the first major travel agency to fall because of the pandemic. Although STA’s Instagram account has been dormant for more than two months, the comments live on as a record of unanswered questions and in-limbo refunds: “I have a student that is needing an update on her refund status and there is literally no way to reach anyone,” wrote one user. “I wonder how many people got robbed of their hard-saved holiday money,” lamented another.
From the start, your case felt like a maze of sharp corners and dead ends. First I visited the STA Travel website: shut down. Then I emailed the customer service agent you had corresponded with: bounceback. When I reached out to the press office of Diethelm Keller Group, STA’s former parent company that is based in Switzerland, and I got the following statement back: “As STA Travel Holding AG is in insolvency proceedings, Diethelm Keller Group is not in a position to provide further support or information.”
I contacted the Arizona Attorney General’s office after discovering one address for STA in Arizona — possibly a franchise — but was told by a spokeswoman that all consumer complaints are confidential.
I considered calling British Airways, but decided against it; after all, the airline had already canceled your tickets and refunded your money (to STA). Customers hoping to cancel active reservations might have luck by appealing directly to the travel company in question, but anyone waiting for an in-process refund from an intermediary like STA probably would not.
I also thought about what would happen if you were to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection, but decided that the particulars of your situation would almost certainly translate into more wasted time. There are simply too many layers of gray areas: Only one of your flight legs was canceled by the airline, you purchased tickets from a third-party seller and your refund had already ostensibly been approved.
Travel insurance wouldn’t have necessarily been a magic bullet, either, said Jennifer Fitzgerald, the co-founder and chief executive of Policygenius, an online insurance marketplace. Even when policies do cover the financial default of a travel supplier, they come with loads of caveats, restrictions and conditions.
“Not every travel insurance policy includes financial default protection, and not every provider will be covered,” said Ms. Fitzgerald. “For example, third-party sellers, like travel agencies, will tend not to qualify as travel suppliers, so travel insurance financial default protection won’t cover them.”
I got about 10 pages into a 90-page bankruptcy document outlining the liquidity ratio of STA’s New Zealand arm before (to use another cliché) going back to square one: the credit card company.
Some credit cards include financial insolvency protection (designed to help cardholders when a travel merchant goes bankrupt) in trip cancellation insurance. Others, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve card you used, exclude financial insolvency protection from insurance, handling it through standard disputes channels instead.
In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase said, “A cardmember can submit a dispute as a result of merchant financial insolvency, which we review on a case-by-case basis.”
The Fair Credit Billing Act, a federal law enacted to protect consumers from unfair credit billing practices, doesn’t have a specific carve-out for a merchant’s financial insolvency, but it does consider “charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as agreed” one of several types of billing errors that consumers have the right to dispute. And although every credit card dispute hinges on the particulars, this is the easiest, most actionable move for lone consumers battling a company that has all but evaporated.
You might wonder, as I did, whether things are more complicated because you’re an American citizen trying to get a refund from an insolvent Swiss company for a canceled British flight. But so long as the consumer’s account with the credit card issuer (a bank, most likely) is based in the United States, and credit is issued to a United States resident, the transaction is covered by the billing error rules of the F.C.B.A.
To protect your rights under the F.C.B.A. in the Before Times, you would have had 60 days from the statement with the billing error to dispute the charge. But these times are hardly normal. That’s why a representative at JPMorgan Chase — citing “your atypical situation with this merchant” — issued you a full refund.
My quest unearthed other tips: Even if you’re filing a dispute through a credit card’s online channels, be sure to also submit the dispute in writing, via snail-mail, to the address the card issuer specifies for billing errors (a condition of the F.C.B.A.). The Federal Trade Commission has a good sample letter online. If you’re not making headway, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has jurisdiction over the country’s largest banks.
One final word of advice — and one final cliché — from Mr. Rheingold: “It’s about the squeaky wheel, right? Putting something out on social media: ‘Can you believe what this company did to me?’ Or saying, ‘I’ve been a cardmember for the last 20 years and I’m getting rid of it from now.’ That’s not legal advice — that’s just practical. That’s when you get your money back.”
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Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ Editor Starts Her Own Publishing Firm
Two years ago, at what seemed to be the pinnacle of her 25 years in publishing, Molly Stern’s career came to an abrupt halt.
As publisher of Crown, Ms. Stern had released 2018’s biggest blockbuster — Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” which sold more than two million copies in its first two weeks. Less than a month later, Ms. Stern left the company in a shake-up, after Penguin Random House merged the Crown and Random House publishing divisions.
Her departure baffled many in the industry because of Ms. Stern’s track record for spotting both commercial and literary hits. A natural next move would have been to set up shop with her own imprint at a rival publishing house, but as she surveyed the landscape, she decided she wanted to build something from scratch.
“What I really wanted to do was tend to my own obsessions and figure out how to do it independently,” she said in an interview this week. “The opportunity to do something new was just too exciting.”
Ms. Stern is starting a new publishing company, Zando, with an unusual marketing and publicity model. Rather than relying chiefly on bookstores, retailers, advertising and other traditional channels to promote authors, she plans to team up with high-profile individuals, companies and brands, who will act as publishing partners and promote books to their fans and customers.
Zando is in advanced negotiations with several potential partners, Ms. Stern said, though the company was not prepared to name them or announce projects. Zando’s partners will get a cut of the royalties; Ms. Stern declined to provide specific breakdowns.
Launching a new publishing venture in an oversaturated media ecosystem — not to mention during a pandemic and economic crisis — may seem like a risky undertaking. But Ms. Stern has aligned herself with deep-pocketed backers.
This summer, she received a significant start-up investment from Sister, an independent global studio that was founded in 2019 by the media executive Elisabeth Murdoch, the film industry executive Stacey Snider and the producer Jane Featherstone. Ms. Stern, Ms. Murdoch and Ms. Snider will sit on Zando’s board of directors, along with Matthew Lieber, co-founder of the podcasting company Gimlet, and David Benioff, one of the producers of “Game of Thrones.”
Ms. Murdoch said in an interview that she wanted to invest in Ms. Stern’s publishing company because it aligned with Sister’s goal of producing high-quality entertainment from emerging writers. The team behind Sister produced the HBO series “Chernobyl” and the British thriller “Broadchurch.”
“When you have a world of massive consolidation and homogeneity, Molly and Sister have a huge passion for new voices,” Ms. Murdoch, the daughter of the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said.
With her industry experience, Ms. Stern may also have an advantage when it comes to signing authors. During her tenure at Crown, the company published blockbusters like Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One,” Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and Andy Weir’s “The Martian,” as well as breakout works of translation like Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian,” which won the Booker International Prize. At Crown, Ms. Stern helped the actress Sarah Jessica Parker start her own literary fiction imprint, an experience she drew on in creating the business model for Zando.
“That’s an advantage she has from being in the business for as long as she has,” said the literary agent David Kuhn. “There will be authors who have worked with Molly in the past who will be much more open to trying something different.”
By aligning authors with cultural ambassadors of sorts, Zando aims to deploy star power to keep its books from drowning in a sea of online content.
“Discoverability is a real crisis,” Ms. Stern said. At Crown, when she was publishing books by lesser-known authors, the lack of broad support was constantly frustrating, even when authors got positive reviews and retail promotion.
“You felt that you were publishing into a vacuum,” she said. “To find an audience is increasingly complicated.”
Several celebrities and public figures, including Jenna Bush Hager, Emma Watson and Reese Witherspoon, have started book clubs and emerged as literary influencers. Ms. Witherspoon’s endorsements helped turn novels like “Little Fires Everywhere” and “Where the Crawdads Sing” into hits, and she has made her media company, Hello Sunshine, into a book-to-screen factory.
As an independent publishing company, Zando can also experiment with distribution in ways that might be challenging for legacy publishers. Ms. Stern said she would rely on traditional distribution networks to get print copies to bookstores but also plans to experiment with alternative distribution channels such as direct-to-consumer sales. She also plans to make audio a centerpiece of the company’s content; after leaving Crown, she has advised Spotify on how to build its audiobook business.
Zando expects to publish its first books in the fall of 2021. Ms. Stern, who will take on the role of chief executive, initially plans to hire eight staff members and later to grow to a staff of 20. She came up with the name as a nod to the first letters of her sons’ names, Zach and Owen.
Forget Antitrust Laws. To Limit Tech, Some Say a New Regulator Is Needed.
For decades, America’s antitrust laws — originally designed to curb the power of 19th-century corporate giants in railroads, oil and steel — have been hailed as “the Magna Carta of free enterprise” and have proved remarkably durable and adaptable.
But even as the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against Google on Tuesday for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in search and search advertising, a growing number of legal experts and economists have started questioning whether traditional antitrust is up to the task of addressing the competitive concerns raised by today’s digital behemoths. Further help, they said, is needed.
Antitrust cases typically proceed at the stately pace of the courts, with trials and appeals that can drag on for years. Those delays, the legal experts and economists said, would give Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple a free hand to become even more entrenched in the markets they dominate.
A more rapid-response approach is required, they said. One solution: a specialist regulator that would focus on the major tech companies. It would establish and enforce a set of basic rules of conduct, which would include not allowing the companies to favor their own services, exclude competitors or acquire emerging rivals and require them to permit competitors access to their platforms and data on reasonable terms.
The British government has already said it would create a digital markets unit, with calls for a Big Tech regulator to also be introduced in the European Union and in Australia. In the United States, recommendations for a digital markets regulator have also been made in expert reports and in congressional testimony. It could be a separate agency or perhaps a digital division inside the Federal Trade Commission.
Significantly, the leading proponents of this path in the United States are mainstream antitrust experts and economists rather than break-’em-up firebrands. Jason Furman, a professor at Harvard University and chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration, led an advisory group to the British government that recommended the creation of a digital markets unit in 2019.
Breaking up the big tech companies, Mr. Furman said, is a bad idea because that would risk losing some of the consumer benefits these digital utilities undeniably deliver. A regulator is necessary to police digital markets and the behavior of the tech giants, he said.
“I’m a small ‘c’ conservative, and I’m not a fan of regulation generally,” Mr. Furman said. “But it’s needed in this space.”
Regulators that focus on specific sectors of the economy are common in the United States. For financial markets, there is the Securities and Exchange Commission; for airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration; for pharmaceuticals, the Food and Drug Administration; for telecommunications, the Federal Communications Commission; and so on.
There is also precedent for picking out a handful of big companies for special treatment. In banking, the biggest banks with the most customers and loans are classified as “systemically important financial institutions” and subject to more stringent scrutiny.
Several supporters of a new tech regulator were officials in the Obama administration, which was known for being friendly to Silicon Valley. But the advocates said that experience — as well as the conservative, pro-big business drift of court rulings in recent years — left them frustrated with antitrust law as the only way to restrain the growing market power and conduct of the big tech companies.
“The mechanism of antitrust is not working to protect competition,” said Fiona Scott Morton, an official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division in the Obama administration, who is an economist at the Yale University School of Management. “So let’s do something else — use a different tool.”
Ms. Scott Morton led an expert panel on antitrust in a report last year on digital platforms by the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The report recommended the creation of a regulatory authority. (Ms. Scott Morton has been a forceful critic of Google, but also a consultant to Apple and Amazon.)
Such a regulatory approach carries the risk of government’s meddling in a fast-moving industry that could hobble innovation, some antitrust experts warned. While antitrust law reacts to alleged anticompetitive behavior and can thus be slow, that shortcoming is preferable to prescriptive government rules and regulations, they said.
“I’m very uncomfortable with the regulatory path, especially if it means things like getting government approval for product changes,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “The history of regulation shows that it is an innovation killer.”
A. Douglas Melamed, a former general counsel of Intel and a former antitrust official in the Justice Department, shared that concern. But Mr. Melamed, a member of the expert panel for the Stigler Center report, said the tech giants did pose a competition problem.
“I think regulation might make sense if it is narrowly focused, not running the industry,” said Mr. Melamed, who is a professor at Stanford Law School.
The last major antitrust action against a big technology company was the landmark Microsoft case in the 1990s. The case began with a suit filed in 1994 by the Federal Trade Commission and a simultaneous consent decree.
The Justice Department and several states later picked up the pursuit, investigated anew, filed suit and conducted an exhaustive trial. Microsoft was found to have repeatedly violated the nation’s antitrust laws, and the company then reached a settlement with the government, which a federal court approved in 2002.
In the Microsoft case, the antitrust legal process worked, in its way. Yet its impact is still debated. Without the suit and years of scrutiny, some observers said, Microsoft could have throttled the rise of Google.
But others said the technological shift toward the internet and away from the personal computer meant that Microsoft had lost the gatekeeper power it once held. Technology, not antitrust, they insisted, opened the door to competition.
Triumph or not, the Microsoft case was two decades ago. Proponents of a new regulator said antitrust law was ill suited by itself to restraining today’s faster-moving digital giants. In the internet economy, they said, the forces that reinforce and expand the power of a market leader — called network effects — are stronger and more rapid than in the personal computer era.
“Antitrust is not a fully adequate tool to deal with the companies that dominate these markets,” said Gene Kimmelman, who was on the Stigler Center panel and a co-author of a recent report by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard that called for the creation of a “digital platform agency” in America.
Another argument for the regulatory option is that competition concerns now span four companies, not just one. Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are in different markets, including search, online advertising, e-commerce and social networks. Bringing separate antitrust cases against them would most likely be beyond the resources of the government.
“When the competition issues are larger than a single firm, regulation might be the better tool to use,” said Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University.
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