In the antitrust hearing held on Wednesday wherein Google’s Sundar Pichai, Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were present, emails exchanged between Zuckerberg and then-CFO of Facebook, David Ebersman were revealed.
As Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are suspected of harming competition in their industry, the antitrust subcommittee held a hearing to question all four CEOs about their dominance. As for Facebook, the Congress has prepared questions, one of which is if the social media giant has “ever threatened to clone the products of another company while also attempting to acquire that company,” a question asked by Rep. Pramila Jayapal for which Zuckerberg responded he does not recall doing so.
Facebook’s billion-dollar purchase of Instagram in 2012 was brought up where Jayapal mentioned that a similar product before the purchase called “Facebook Camera,” was being developed. Zuckerberg then denied threatening Instagram’s founder Kevin Systrom using Facebook Camera.
However, the emails Zuckerberg sent to David Ebersman reveal another story. For example, in the email sent on Feb. 27, 2012, Zuckerberg said “One business questions I’ve been thinking about recently is how much we should be willing to pay to acquire mobile app companies like Instagram and Path that are building networks that are competitive with our own,” even writing that Instagram has the potential to hurt Facebook.
“The businesses are nascent but the networks are established, the brands are already meaningful and if they grow to a large scale they could be very disruptive to us,” Zuckerberg added. This was then used by the committee, arguing that the Facebook founder wanted to purchase Instagram to remove competition.
The 36-year-old CEO responded that he has been “clear that Instagram was a competitor in the space of mobile photo sharing.” “And by having them join us, they certainly went from being a competitor in the space of being a mobile camera to an app that we could help grow and to help get more people to be able to use,” he added on Wednesday afternoon.
There were some confusions during the hearing as well like how Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner confused Zuckerberg as the owner of Twitter.
The committee is expected to release a report in a few weeks.