How Much More Should It Be Al­lowed to Grab?

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sunday Briefing -

Google is the quin­tes­sen­tial busi­ness suc­cess story. Two bright young guys started with an idea, built a com­pany around it and grew it into a $150 bil­lion jug­ger­naut that now dom­i­nates the In­ter­net. It nudged aside ri­val Ya­hoo, chal­lenged tra­di­tional me­dia gi­ants and frus­trated the Web strat­egy of the once-in­vin­ci­ble Mi­crosoft. And it did it all fair and square.

First-quar­ter re­ports show how much Google has pulled ahead of the pack: a 69 per­cent in­crease in profit on a 63 per­cent in­crease in sales. The news came just days af­ter Ya­hoo ac­knowl­edged that its profit had fallen 11 per­cent, send­ing its al­ready-lag­ging stock down 12 per­cent. Re­ports from big news­pa­per chains were even more dis­mal.

But now, pre­cisely be­cause of its suc­cess, it’s fair to ask if Google should be barred from fur­ther­ing its dom­i­nance through ac­qui­si­tions or col­lab­o­ra­tions. At is­sue are the re­cent pur­chases of YouTube, the leader in on­line video shar­ing, and Dou­bleClick, the lead­ing bro­ker of on­line ad­ver­tis­ing; in both in­stances Google used its gusher of prof­its to out­bid ri­vals. There are also new joint ven­tures with Clear Chan­nel, the gi­ant ra­dio broad­caster, and EchoS­tar, the satel­lite television op­er­a­tor.

Con­sider this: There may never have been a Google with­out the gov­ern­ment’s an­titrust suit that pre­vented Mi­crosoft from crush­ing up­start ri­vals. By the same prin­ci­ple, isn’t it time to be­gin re­strain­ing Google to in­crease the odds an­other Google will come along?

BY TIM GRAJEK FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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