Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that the social media giant can “always just buy any competitive startups,” according to emails obtained by Congress.
U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) questioned Zuckerberg about his acquisitions of other companies such as WhatsApp and Instagram during Wednesday’s Big Tech hearing.
As evidence, Neguse read internal Facebook emails from 2012, right after the company bought Instagram.
“We can likely always just buy any competitive startups but it will be a while before we can buy Google,” Neguse read from the email, which was written by Zuckerberg himself.
Zuckerberg said he did not remember writing the email but said that “it sounds like a joke.”
Documents from the Hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google" pic.twitter.com/1o6TwV8k4k
— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) July 29, 2020
Neguse said that Facebook could have been considered a monopoly by as early as 2012 by “purchasing, replicating, and eliminating competition.” Zuckerberg disagreed with this view but did acknowledge Facebook has acquired other successful companies. Zuckerberg admitted that WhatsApp and Instagram — which were later snapped up by Facebook — had been competitors against the social media giant.
“The space of people connecting with other people is a very large space and I would agree there were different approaches that we took to addressing parts of that space,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp was a competitor when Facebook bought it in 2014, but that it was also complementary to the social network’s platform.
Facebook and Zuckerberg spent much of Wednesday’s hearing facing questions over its strategy of copying or buying up social media competitors. However, he did push back, saying that the apps were not guaranteed to succeed before they were bought by Facebook.