By Kara Swisher, New York Times
If power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, how can we best describe the kind of power Big Tech will wield when the coronavirus crisis is over?
How about this: The tech giants could have all the power and absolutely none of the accountability — at least all the power that will truly matter.
This is the conclusion that many are coming to as the post-pandemic future begins to come into focus. Wall Street sure is signaling that the power lies with tech companies, vaulting the stock of Amazon to close to $2,400 a share earlier this week, from $1,838 at the end of January. While the price fell on Friday to $2,286 a share, after Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said he would spend future profits on the coronavirus response, that still gives the company a value of $1.14 trillion.
And all the other Big Tech stocks, which were hit in the first weeks of the pandemic, also are on an upward march to the top of the market-cap heap. Microsoft at $1.32 trillion. Apple at $1.26 trillion. Alphabet at $900 billion. And Facebook at $577 billion. This group now makes up just over 20 percent of the S.&P. 500, which is a flashing yellow signal of what is to come.
That is to say, we live in a country in which the very big tech firms will be the very big winners in the economy of the future, which still does not look like it will be so pretty for most people and many companies, too.
In a column about a month ago, I wrote about a problematic trend that would develop after the world had been turned upside down by the pandemic. “There will be a culling of most competitors of these giants that will only strengthen the power and reach of the behemoths, eliminating pesky roadblocks to their further domination,” I wrote about tech’s leading companies, who have the money and the means to wait out the storm. “This is obviously not a good thing in the long run.”