The FTC, Google and anti-trust: Some thoughts

In Silicon Valley, we first fall in love with start-ups and their vision. Then a few years later when they are successful, we consider them to be geniuses. And when they become too powerful, they become evil. And after the too-powerful phase comes a swift fall from grace. We saw that happen with IBM (S IBM), Microsoft (S MSFT), Netscape and lately with Facebook (S FB) & Zynga (S ZYGA).

Google (s GOOG) is currently in Phase 3, aka its “evil phase,” and it looks like the Federal Trade Commission is doing its best to make sure that the final kick is delivered.

According to Reuters, four out of five FTC commissioners believe that Google has abused its dominance of the search business. This is not the first time we have heard that the FTC is investigating a growing pile of complaints, but this time the FTC might follow through, Reuters says.

The anti-trust complaint, if it comes, will be interesting to watch for a couple of reasons:

  1. Google is locked in a bitter fight with Apple, Microsoft and Facebook and would have to divert resources to the FTC challenge. It would be very distracting for the management.
  2. Google has never had to face adversity, and by extension, I don’t think the company culture is ready for such negative shocks to the system. If I remember correctly, during Microsoft’s tussles with the Justice Department, morale took a major dip.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Mark Strozier