2018 Antitrust and Competition conference - Digital Platforms and Concentration

April 19–20, 2018
Gleacher Center, 450 N Cityfront Plaza Drive


About the Conference

The economic and societal role of the handful of large companies known as “digital platforms" has grown dramatically in the last decade. Google, Amazon, and Facebook are not only transforming communication, media, and retail but have the potential to transform many other industries. While they invest billions in research and development and propel important innovation, they also raise many policy questions with regard to their dominance in many markets, the vast consumer data they collect and own, and their influence on the markets for news, information, and ideas. On April 19 and 20, 2018, the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business will dedicate its annual Antitrust and Competition conference to the topic of “Digital Platforms and Concentration.”

Issues to be discussed at the conference include, among others:

  • The characteristics and market power of two-sided markets 
  • How competition can be promoted in a world of network effects 
  • The economics of free products and the challenges they pose to antitrust and existing law 
  • The collection, monetization, and ownership of personal data 
  • Digital companies’ foray into the physical world
  • How and to what degree digital companies are involved in political decision making
  • How the startup ecosystem is affected by the presence of big players 

The invitation-only conference will bring together approximately 50 economists, law scholars, intellectuals, venture capitalists, and business people for two days of discussion. The keynote speakers will be Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, Alvin Roth, the 2012 Nobel laureate in economics, and Jean Tirole, the 2014 Nobel laureate in economics.

The conference will be by invitation only. Individuals interested in receiving an invitation, please submit your invitation request here.

Watch Live

The conference will be LIVE-STREAMED. See video link HERE

Schedule

Times are listed in Central Time.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

8:00 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.

Breakfast

8:20 a.m. – 8:25 a.m.

Welcome remarks - Guy Rolnik, Conference Organizer, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

8:25 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Opening remarks - Daniel Diermeier, Provost, University of Chicago

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

The Rise of Digital Platforms
The economic and societal role of digital platforms has grown dramatically in the last decade. Are the large Internet companies really “platforms”? Can they have outsized influence in many market and industries? What explains the size and success of these companies? Are they designing their products to be addictive? What are the most important policy questions that these companies raise?

Moderator: Patrick Foulis, New York Bureau Chief, The Economist

  • Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist, American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology
  • Tristan Harris, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Humane Technology
  • Kevin Murphy, George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Fiona Scott Morton, Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics, Yale University School of Management
  • Chad Syverson, Eli B. and Harriet B. Williams Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Ben Thompson, Author and Founder, Stratechery

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. 

Big Data: Economic, Ownership, Legal, and Political Aspects
User data is arguably digital platforms’ most valuable asset. How data are used has profound economic, social, and political implications. What are these implications? Where along the value chain do data belong? Could reassigning ownership of the data and making it easily available to users promote competition and address privacy concerns?

Moderator: Ludwig Siegele, Technology Editor, The Economist

  • Julia Angwin, Senior Reporter, ProPublica
  • Dennis Carlton, David McDaniel Keller Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Richard Schmalensee, Howard W. Johnson Professor of Economics and Management and Dean Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California
  • Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance; Faculty Director, Stigler Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Break

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Lunch Keynote - Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice

1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Break

1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

The Big Five and Political Power
The largest technology companies—Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple—are active political players, using the traditional levers of lobbying and financing of research, think tanks, and political campaigns. However, it is their market power, and leverage over media outlets, that opens up new avenues for these platforms and foreign actors that exploit vulnerabilities in their systems to dominate and control the flow of political information among voters. How do they influence political discourse, the marketplace of ideas, and democracy more broadly?

Moderator: Matt Stoller, Fellow, Open Markets Insitute

  • Scott Cleland, President, Precursor LLC
  • Ellen Goodman, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School and Co-director, Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law
  • Barry Lynn, Executive Director, Open Markets Institute
  • Guy Rolnik, Clinical Associate Professor of Strategic Management, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Break

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Digital Platforms: Market Power and Market Failures 
Digital platforms (e.g. Facebook, Google, Twitter) rely on network effects to build vast ecosystems of users, advertisers and third-party developers, and to attain substantive market power. How should that market power be measured and what concerns does it raise for competition and entry? What are the market failures left unaddressed by these digital platforms and how should we expect them to govern their respective ecosystems? 

Moderator: Jesse Eisinger, Senior Reporter and Editor, ProPublica

  • Jay Pil Choi, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University
  • Andrei Hagiu, Visiting Associate Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Sarit Markovich, Clinical Associate Professor of Strategy and Associate Chair of the Strategy Department, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
  • Fiona Scott Morton, Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics, Yale University School of Management
  • Carl Shapiro, Professor of the Graduate School, Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Reception and dinner

Dinner Keynote - Alvin Roth, Nobel Laureate and Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University

                                                   

Friday, April 20, 2018

8:00 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.

Breakfast Keynote - Mario Monti, President, Bocconi University; Former Prime Minister of Italy; Former EU Competition Commissioner

8:40 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Who’s Benefiting? Revisiting the Innovation and Start-Up Ecosystem
How does the dominance of the digital platforms impact the startup ecosystem? As big digital players often scoop up startups or replicate startups’ ideas, what constitutes success for emerging startups? How does acquisition versus IPO serve competition and innovation? Is innovation concentrated mainly in the pre-acquisition phase?

Moderator: Adam Lashinsky, Executive Editor, Fortune

  • Elvir Causevic, Managing Director and Co-Head, Tech+IP, Houlihan Lokey 
  • Matt Perault, Director, Public Policy, Facebook
  • Albert Wenger, Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures
  • Glen Weyl, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research New England and Visiting Senior Research Scholar, Department of Economics and Law School, Yale University

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Can Government Resist Corporate Influence?
The Big Five have met little government intervention as they have gained dominance and brought about market consolidation. Has government treated digital platforms differently than other corporations? Are digital platforms more politically influential than other big corporations and, if so, why?

Moderator: Rana Foroohar, Global Business Columnist and Associate Editor, Financial Times and Global Economic Analyst, CNN

  • Alejandra Palacios, Commissioner and Chair, Mexico Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE)
  • Randal Picker, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Daniel Stevens, Executive Director, Campaign for Accountability, Google Transparency Project
  • Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance; Faculty Director, Stigler Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Break

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch Keynote - Jean Tirole, Nobel Laureate and Chairman, Toulouse School of Economics

1:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Break

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

The Amazon Phenomenon
Amazon has transformed e-commerce and now begins its foray into the physical world with its acquisition of Whole Foods. The giant e-tailer offers a quintessential case study in how digital platforms are reimagining traditional markets and impacting society at large. Who will be “Amazoned” next? What lessons can we learn from Amazon’s experience with antitrust? As Amazon looks to situate its second headquarters, some believe the bid is a race to the bottom. What is the anticipated net impact of hosting the headquarters on a winner city and state?

Moderator: David Dayen, Contributing Writer, The Intercept

  • Joshua Gans, Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
  • Austan Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Lina Khan, Director, Legal Policy, Open Markets Institute
  • Maurice Stucke, Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law and Of Counsel, The Konkurrenz Group
  • Ben Thompson, Author and Founder, Stratechery

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Break

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

US vs EU: Antitrust, Data, and Privacy Policy
Questions about digital markets and competition have begun gaining prevalence and commanding more regulatory attention. While the EU has taken aggressive measures against the digital platforms, including a €2.4 billion fine on Google and introducing significant privacy laws (GDPR), regulators in the United States have demonstrated a more lenient approach. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the EU versus US policy choices?

Moderator: John O'Sullivan, Economics Editor, The Economist

  • Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law and Director, Centre for Competition Law and Policy, University of Oxford
  • Justus Haucap, Director, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf
  • William Kovacic, Global Competition Professor and Director, Competition Law Center, George Washington University Law School
  • Gary Reback, Of Counsel, Carr & Ferrell LLP
  • Thomas Vinje, Partner and Chairman, Global Antitrust Group, Clifford Chance LLP

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks - Luigi Zingales, Faculty Director, Stigler Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

5:00 p.m.

Conference Adjourns


Logistics

The conference venue is the Gleacher Center, located in downtown Chicago at 450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr. There are a number of hotels in the area with special University of Chicago rates, details below. Ask for the University of Chicago rate when making your booking.

LondonHouse Chicago
85 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601
312.357.1200

InterContinental Chicago
505 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611
800.628.2112

Club Quarters Wacker at Michigan
75 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601
312.357.6400; Reservations: 203.905.2100

Omni Chicago
676 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611
312.944.6664

Conference Organizers
  • Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Guy Rolnik, Clinical Associate Professor of Strategic Management, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
For more information, contact:

Sebastian Burca, Associate Director, Stigler Center
773.834.2054
sebastian.burca@chicagobooth.edu

 

Disclaimer: Students should never miss class to attend optional programming. The Deans’ Office will not support requests for absences due to participation on a trek, event, conference, or trip as excused.


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