On Wednesday, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is expected to testify before the Senate Committee’s antitrust panel and argue that Google does not give preference to its own products. Eric Schmidt, who is the executive chairman of Google, relinquished the chief executive officer position to Larry Page in May. He is expected to say that Google, which currently controls approximately two thirds of search traffic, displays search results on the basis of what is best for users.
Google, whose share of US search revenues is over 75%, will point out that users have a choice of search engines. Schmidt is expected to claim that Google’s algorithm and extensive user testing determine ranking and that Google is not abusing its web dominance when the search giant ranks certain properties it owns above the competition.
Testifying for the opposition, Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive of Yelp, is expected to argue that Google is using its monopolistic power adversely to destroy its competition. Although Google tried to buy Yelp in 2009, negotiations with the popular review site were unsuccessful. After the acquisition talks broke down, Google launched Google Places, its own version of Yelp’s review site. Stoppelman will undoubtedly claim that Google copied Yelp’s content and treated Google Places preferentially when it displayed the copied content above Yelp reviews.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and member of the antitrust subcommittee, said:
“Google is a great American success story, but its size, position and power in the marketplace have raised concerns about its business practices, and raised the question of what responsibilities come with that power.”
The hearing has been appropriately named, “The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?” On Wednesday, Senator Blumenthal and the rest of the antitrust panel will attempt to determine the answer to that question as well as if Google has violated its own corporate slogan: “Don’t be evil.”