Big tech” companies like Google and Facebook are, in reality, the products of hundreds of mergers. Each root below represents a company acquired by a tech giant at a particular moment in its history. A vast majority of these acquisitions, funded by public markets, have received minimal media coverage and limited regulatory scrutiny. But that is changing, given new concerns about consolidation in the tech industries.
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According to the Anti-Merger Act of 1950, federal agencies are supposed to block any merger whose effect “may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” Yet of the more than 350 mergers completed by Facebook or Google, none threatened a reduction of competition sufficient to block it, at least according to the federal agencies. As with a basketball referee who never calls a foul, the question is whether the players have really been faultless — or whether the referee is missing something.