Going back to the middle of the 19th century, the role of monopolies in American business has been hotly contested. On the one hand, organizations like Standard Oil, the New York Central Railroad or U.S. Steel had cornered markets and ruthlessly run their competitors out of business. They had captured the very regulatory agencies that were designed to keep them in check, effectively making them departments within their corporate structure. And all of these companies shifted costs onto the American public, through a variety of externalities.
But the flipside of that argument is that those same monopolies also enabled the country to progress into the future, eventually becoming the most dominant industrial power on Earth. Through their economies of scale and ability to spend vast resources on developing new processes, these companies were able to manufacture goods on a scale that would have otherwise likely been impossible. Ultimately, even though they cost society a great deal, they ended up saving consumers money through their ability to produce high-quality products at ever-cheaper prices.
But the final verdict on monopolies in U.S. business has been, whatever their merits, that they eventually end up costing more than they contribute. Shervin Pishevar is one of America’s leading financial experts in the world of tech. In Shervin Pishevar’s view, whatever the initial contributions of the Big Five tech monopolies, which include Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, their externalizing of costs is currently far outweighing their current benefits to society at large.
1/ Some thoughts on financial storms I seeing brewing ahead. I expect 6000 point drop in aggregate in months ahead. Here’s why.
— Shervin Pishevar (@shervin) February 6, 2018
Shervin Pishevar has first-hand knowledge of how this works in practice. In his time as one of the leading figures within Uber, Shervin Pishevar has personally witnessed the way that Google has engaged in asymmetrical lawfare, forcing the much more precariously capitalized Uber into jaw-droppingly expensive legal skirmishes on specious claims of intellectual property violations.
While Google has the cash reserves to easily absorb these expenses, Uber does not. Shervin Pishevar says that Uber came close to having to give up its self-driving vehicle research as a direct result of being dragged through the legal mud by Google.