President Trump Isn’t Focused on Facebook, He’s After Amazon

April 3, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Politics and tech companies don’t always mix. They each need each other, but it couldn’t be clearer that sometimes, they just don’t get along. In light of Facebook’s recent data debacle with the U.S. and international governments, most tech companies are probably re-examining their track records a little more closely to ensure a similar fiasco won’t plummet their stock price or create a cause for concern for investors.

But President Donald Trump doesn’t seem so concerned with Facebook’s most recent public backlash, which has strong ties to his 2016 election win. He’s been more focused on Amazon’s monopoly-like hold on consumers since his presidential campaign.

Is Trump Right to Worry?

Trump’s biggest gripe with the Seattle-based tech company is over its economic impact and business practices, like failing to pay adequate taxes. A recent tweet from Trump’s (over)active account spoke of Amazon’s place in the consumer’s daily life. In the past, the President has expressed discontentment with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s ownership of the Washington Post.

Even a source who has spoken with Trump says, “He’s wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.” In a campaign speech, he warned that Amazon would have lots of problems if he won the election. Still, there are no active antitrust investigations against Amazon right now at the U.S. Justice Department.

Amazon’s Agenda

Amazon may not be welcome by Trump to Washington, D.C., but the company still sends lobbyists to campaign on its behalf on many issues: data-privacy, government procurement, and cybersecurity were a few. It continuously showcases its impact on the U.S. economy, highlighting small businesses that make big bucks on its platform.

Bezo’s company spent $13 million on lobbying in 2017, compared to $2.5 million in 2012. Its lobbying team even includes a seasoned Congressional professional: former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Brian Ballard, a close ally of Trump.

Still, this hasn’t stopped Trump from tweeting messages like, “They pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”

Is a Day of Reckoning Inevitable?

Amazon’s business contributed to 4% of all U.S. retail purchases in 2017. But in e-commerce, it’s a very strong player; it pushed through 43% of all e-commerce business in 2017. Its year-over-year growth from 2016 to 2017 was 31% to $177 billion.

Professor of management at Penn State University, Donald Hambrick, says, “I think Amazon faces a day of reckoning with or without Trump. They have built up this monolithic entity which a lot of America benefits from, but is also annoyed by and skeptical of.”

Amazon has transformed itself from e-commerce website to ubiquitous source of any item you could ever need in recent years. And many consumers now rely on it even more thanks to their user-friendly mobile app. What do you think about Amazon’s influence over the American economy and its consumers?

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