Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been in the news a lot in recent days, most notably hitting the campaign trail with presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
But some remarks that the Democratic senator from Massachusetts made Wednesday are raising eyebrows in corporate America, especially as it relates to the powerful players in the tech industry.
Speaking at an event hosted by the New America think tank, Sen. Warren — who many have dubbed the front runner for the vice presidential slot on the Clinton ticket — noted that the innovation economy in the U.S. was being harmed by large acquisitions that escaped government scrutiny. She said that big mergers are outpacing government scrutiny, and that “competition is dying” in the U.S. because of it.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Warren specifically referred to the growing power of three tech juggernauts: Amazon, Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. And while she said that each have introduced important technologies and deserve to be profitable and successful, Sen. Warren noted that “the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors who want their chance to change the world.”
She also reportedly mentioned consolidation in the health care arena, as well as the airline industry.
Interestingly, one company not mentioned by Sen. Warren was Microsoft, which has seen a resurgence under CEO Satya Nadella and underwent massive antitrust scrutiny in the 1990s. A federal judge initially ruled for Microsoft to be broken in two as part of the antitrust case, but following an appeal and a Nov. 2001 settlement the company was kept intact with lesser penalties.
Sen. Warren’s strong words could give pause to many in the technology industry who view mergers and acquisitions as a natural part of the ecosystem. That’s especially important for Microsoft which is currently in the process of buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech sector.
Interestingly, two of the companies mentioned by Sen. Warren — Amazon and Apple — have spurned big acquisitions over the years in favor of internal innovation and growth. Some would argue smaller acquisitions such as the one conducted by Apple (see full list of Apple acquisitions here) and Amazon (see Amazon’s top 5 acquisitions here) actually seed the innovation economy, spreading more wealth to entrepreneurs who can then funnel money to new startup projects.