I miss the good old days when technology and politics rarely intersected. Ever since the invention of the first tool, technology has been an integral part of the human experience. We simply cannot live without technology; it's what defines us as a species.
But technology isn't always a force for good, and sometimes technology leaders make mistakes. We're in the middle of an argument today between President Trump and a technology leader. Eventually, history will decide who's right.
President Trump has kept up his attack on Amazon, and it's hard to tell whether this is merely a war of words or the beginning of a long, nasty fight. Amazon isn't just a humongous online retailer; it's a growing giant with the awesome power to disrupt entire industries.
Consider Amazon Web Services, the world's leading provider of cloud services. AWS isn't just big - it's bigger than all of its rivals combined. The sheer size and market share of AWS gives Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, amazing leverage.
Here in the tech industry, we've seen AWS evolve into a fundamental part of the start-up ecosystem, which depends on cloud services for low-cost computing power. The growth of AWS has made Amazon a strategic player in the global innovation economy.
In other words, AWS has become a chokepoint for innovation. What's to keep AWS from deciding which startups get to use its services and which do not?
President Trump has some options to consider. According to a report in Business Insider last week, the options include stronger antitrust regulations and forcing Amazon to pay more federal taxes and more state sales taxes. Any one of those could potentially weaken Amazon and create opportunities for its competitors.
How far will this battle go? We just don't know. But I have the feeling it won't be over soon.
As I wrote last week, capitalism is all about finding a balance, and there's a fine line between disruption and destruction. Many people believe that Amazon has already crossed that line. Amazon's rapid growth raises legitimate fears that it could easily crush smaller or less agile competitors. Most of us appreciate the value of competition, but we also want the competition to be fair.
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