EU: Antitrust & technology for good’ headline World Economic Forum in Davos

The technology sector is set to maintain its dominance at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this year, reported The Financial Times. 

Technology is still where much of the action is in Davos, and the tech companies will still be occupying the best venues on the promenade, a good indicator of who dominates. 

The large public companies will divide their time between acknowledging controversies over a range of issues, from privacy infringements to antitrust violations, and participating in the WEF’s “Tech for Good” content, say analysts, (with delegates expecting to hear much about how fintech can help the unbanked and what cloud computing is doing for small business, along with individual corporate announcements such as Microsoft’s 30-year plan to become carbon negative).

They will also face pressure from regulators such as Rohit Chopra, US Federal Trade Commissioner, who will headline a session covering antitrust issues on Wednesday, January 22, and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is in Davos and talking about the need to curb the power of Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Facebook. 

But the WEF has also invited an unusually large number of the biggest private technology companies, some of them business-to-business groups rather than consumer brands. This reflects a turning point in the technology sector, where money has become more concentrated in private hands.

“You can think of it in terms of ‘before SoftBank’ and ‘after SoftBank’,” said Christian Lanng, chief executive and chairman of Tradeshift, a Silicon Valley-based supply chain platform. Mr Lanng was referring to the Japanese conglomerate that suffered billions of dollars in writedowns after bidding up valuations of companies such as Uber and WeWork. 

“There’s going to be a lot more focus on value over growth and seeing who is actually profitable,” said Mr Lanng. “I think you’ll see more suits and ties on the promenade and fewer hoodies.”