A "Whack-a-mole monopolization machine"*? "Ecosystem" theories in digital platform mergers
Tuesday 25 October 2022 - 04:00-05:30 PM (UK), 05:00-6:30 PM (CET), 11:00-12:30 AM (EST)
An open online event by the CEPR Competition Policy RPN
Live Webcast with Annabelle Gawer (University of Surrey and University of Oxford), Mike Walker (Competition and Markets Authority and RPN Member), John Newman (Miami School of Law and Federal Trade Commission), Patrick Rey (Toulouse School of Economics, CEPR and RPN Member), Hans Zenger (European Commission) and Feng Zhu (Harvard Business School). Tommaso Valletti (Imperial College London, and Director, CEPR Competition RPN) introduced the event and Cristina Caffarra (Keystone, RPN Co-Founder and Steering Committee Member) acted as Chair. The event lasted 90 minutes.
A very high-profile issue that has emerged recently is how to deal with acquisitions by digital platforms that do not fit the standard horizonal/vertical structure. We indeed observe that agencies are confronted with many acquisitions where the target is in an adjacent market. There is an effort on the part of agencies to develop “theories of harm”, which rely on the idea a platform may have significant presence in multiple adjacent spaces. This can contribute to a “flywheel effect” powering up the impact of a given acquisition beyond traditional mechanisms. Cases like Microsoft/Activision, Amazon/iRobot, and more, are attracting these questions. The issue for enforcers is thus how do we make these theories actionable and credible? The question for economists is how do we make some clarity on the mechanisms that are of concern? Furthermore, what mechanisms can regulators rely on to identify if this is a problem in a particular case?
The event was public.
*from AAG Kanter’s speech at Fordham, 15 September 2022