Amy Klobuchar

Google gave 'the ultimatum only a monopolist can give'

September 22, 2011: 7:00 AM ET

What Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told the Senate antitrust panel about Google

Yelp's Stoppelman, Nextag's Katz, and former Justice Department antitrust director Thomas Barnett. Photo: AP

As feared, the Senate hearings Wednesday on "The Power of Google: Serving Customers or Threatening Competition?" barely scratched the surface.

What Google (GOOG) did to Apple (AAPL) -- copying Apple's touchscreen operating system and offering it to Apple's competitors for free -- never came up. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used much of their time to suck up to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, practically begging him to bring Google's fiber-to-the-home experiment to their states.

But for viewers who stuck around for the full three-hour hearing (available on C-Span here), one message was clear: As Google has grown to achieve monopoly-scale control of Internet search, its mission has changed. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman put it most succinctly:

"Let's be clear. Google is no longer in the business of sending users to the best sources of information on the Web. It now hopes to become a destination site itself for one vertical market after another, including news, shopping, travel, and now, local business reviews. It would be one thing if these efforts were conducted on a level playing field, but the reality is they're not."

For me, the testimony of Yelp's Stoppelman and Nextag CEO Jeff Katz was the most compelling, because it came from Web-based entrepreneurs who know all too well how the game is played.

Here's the crux of the story Stoppelman told the senators:  More

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