Jeff Bezos Snacked And Muted His Mic During Big Tech Antitrust Hearing
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been criticised after he was seen casually enjoying some snacks and failing to unmute his microphone when questioned during a high-profile antitrust hearing.
Some of the world’s most powerful technology titans, including Bezos and the CEOs of Apple, Facebook and Google, appeared before Congress yesterday, July 29, in an antitrust hearing regarding concerns that their businesses may be harming competition.
The five-hour hearing was the culmination of an investigation by top lawmakers in Congress into whether the four tech giants have been abusing their power and dominance in the online marketplace.
Bezos was perhaps one of the most-anticipated execs making an appearance, but viewers were surprised when he went largely ignored for the first two hours of the hearing.
The Amazon chief, who appeared at the hearing via video call, could be seen nonchalantly snacking and enjoying a drink while his counterparts were being grilled by Congress, as if the trial was some entertaining reality TV show he was enjoying on a Friday night.
The Congressional panel were forced to take a 10-minute break to fix a technical issue when Bezos’s video image failed to show as full-screen, and the problems only continued throughout the hearing.
When it came time for his questioning, Bezos – again, the CEO of one of the biggest websites in the world – struggled with his technology and forgot to take his microphone off mute to answer.
Congressional Representative Greg Steube was met with an awkward silence as Bezos chatted away to no one, before he pointed out: ‘Mr Bezos?… You’re on mute.’
Bezos quickly turned his mic back on and apologised for the error, though poor sound quality and delayed audio continued to make the hearing a difficult watch.
Representative Pramila Jayapal questioned Bezos about whether Amazon used data from sellers on its website to launch competing products, and the CEO said that while there is a policy that prohibits the use of third-party seller data to support Amazon’s own private-label business, he admitted: ‘I can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated,’ CNN reports.
At one point, Bezos refuted claims Amazon acted like a ‘drug dealer’ after US Congressman David Cicilline quoted a business that had used the site to sell its product, until one day the owners found Amazon had started selling the same product for a lower price, causing their profit to drop to zero.
Citing the business owner, Cicilline said:
Amazon strings you along for a while because it feels so good to get that pay cheque every week, and in the past, for lack of a better term, we called it Amazon heroin, because you just kept going, and you had to get your next fix, your next cheque.
And at the end of the day you find out that this person, who has seemingly benefitting you, making you feel good, is just ultimately going to be your downfall.
Responding to the accusation, Bezos said he ‘completely disagree[d]’ with the characterisation of Amazon as a ‘drug dealer’ and insisted the decision to allow third-party sellers to use the site was based on what was good for the consumer.
Cicilline went on to say that the company he’d quoted was just one of many small businesses that claimed to be ‘mistreated, abused and tossed aside’ by Amazon.
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