Google Chief's Senate Testimony: 10 Lessons Learned About the Search Giant

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-09-22 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt testified before a Senate antitrust subcommittee looking into the search giant's business practices. Schmidt had to provide carefully worded answers to some loaded questions.

Google finds itself in some trouble. The company's business is being reviewed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to determine if the company is acting as a monopoly and stifling competition in the marketplace. For its part, Google has said that such claims are ridiculous, and it is simply performing better than all other firms in a hotly contested online marketplace.

But not everyone is so quick to agree. During a hearing with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was forced to field questions from senators, who continued to hammer away at Google's practices. Those senators cited Google Search, the company's relationship with Yelp and much more. The questions certainly indicated that the senators are, at the very least, skeptical of Google and its business practices.

But aside from that, much can be gleaned from Schmidt's testimony on Sept. 21. During the entire process, he provided an important look into what Google thinks, and how it operates its business.

1. Google won't back down

If nothing else, Schmidt made it abundantly clear during his testimony before the subcommittee that Google won't go down without a fight. The search giant believes that it's not stifling competition in the marketplace and it's simply performing extremely well where others are not. Perhaps Schmidt's most overt statement on Google's intention to not back down came at the beginning of his prepared testimony when he requested the subcommittee "ensure that the FTC's inquiry remains a focused and fair process."

2. Google doesn't believe it's doing anything wrong

Google seems to believe that it isn't doing anything wrong in the marketplace. Schmidt said numerous times during his testimony that Google always "puts consumers first" and continually tries to be as "open" as possible. What's more, Schmidt said his company is "transparent" in how it handles its business. Simply put, Schmidt-and Google-feels the search giant is doing nothing wrong.

3. The competition idea is ridiculous to Google

Much has been made about Google's ability to stifle competition in the marketplace. However, during his prepared testimony, Schmidt made it clear that the search company thinks that argument is nonsense. He said the Internet is an open environment for any company to come up and grab market share away from competitors. He also noted that Google competes "hard" against Amazon, Microsoft and others in the search and cloud computing spaces. In other words, even though Google Search is dominant and its advertising platform is the only go-to option for most advertisers, Google still believes its competitors can catch up.

4. Google is worried about the FTC's inquiry

It's important to note that Google is clearly concerned about the FTC's inquiry into its business. As history has shown, the U.S. government hasn't always been so kind to major corporations. And Schmidt, trying to acknowledge that, asked the subcommittee to help Google receive a "fair" review of its business from the FTC. Schmidt also ended his prepared testimony with mention of the FTC, saying that the inquiry should show that Google is an "enthusiastic company."

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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