U.S. antitrust regulators have issued new guidelines that could make it more difficult for Big Tech companies to acquire rivals or make minority investments in startups.
The guidelines, which were released by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, specifically call out “multi-sided platforms,” such as Amazon and Google, which operate markets where buyers and sellers interact.
The guidelines say that mergers involving multi-sided platforms should be scrutinized to ensure that they do not reduce competition. They also say that mergers that eliminate potential entrants or that give one company too much control over a market should be blocked.
Following a 60-day public comment period, the finalization timeline remains uncertain. The regulators are poised to confront a series of legal challenges to mergers in the coming months, reflecting the Biden administration’s heightened skepticism towards many deals, particularly in the technology sector. The guidelines pointedly address deals such as Amazon’s acquisition of Ring in 2018, indicating increased scrutiny on tech industry transactions.
Senior officials from the DOJ and FTC stress that the guidelines are focused on statutes and case law, and do not favor any particular business model.