- More than 22 years ago, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates squared off against the Department of Justice over issues of antitrust.
- The case is not unlike what Google is now facing: a lawsuit form the DOJ alleging Google’s business deals hurt smaller competitors.
- Back in 1998, Gates was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be questioned about Microsoft’s dominance in the software market. Microsoft’s business practices ultimately led the Department of Justice to file suit against the company.
- A court initially ruled that Microsoft should be broken up into two separate companies, which Microsoft appealed. In the end, Microsoft settled with the US government, agreeing to change its ways.
- But the court case had long-lasting impacts on Gates and Microsoft. It directly contributed to Gates’ early retirement, and Gates has said it’s the reason Microsoft’s smartphone ambitions failed.
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More than 22 years ago, Bill Gates facing the situation as Google CEO Sundar Pichai: an antitrust case from the Department of Justice.
In May 1998, the DOJ filed suit against Microsoft, alleging the company had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The suit followed Gates’ testimony before Congress, where he addressed Microsoft’s market power and whether the company was abusing it.
It’s hard not to draw parallels between Gates’ situation in the late ’90s and what Google is now facing: the DOJ is planning to file an antitrust case against Google on Tuesday, arguing that Google put smaller competitors at a disadvantage through its business deals and uses its smartphones to increase its app dominance.
As Google gears up to do battle with the DOJ, here’s how nearly identical scrutiny in the late ’90s played out for Gates and Microsoft.