Powers Combined: Corporate Mergers and the Business of AT&T and Google


Yeah, it feels a little like this half the time…
Source: LexisNexis Legal Newsroom

Last Sunday was not of the “lazy” variety if the news I read is to be believed.

According to reports, not only is telecommunications giant AT&T in the process of acquiring DirecTV, but Google is currently negotiating the one billion dollar purchase of Twitch.

Now, the last time I discussed the nature of corporate mergers was back in my college radio days when me and my friends were discussing the Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel merger. So I guess it’s about time to talk about how I feel about corporate mergers as a whole.

Now, I won’t go on record saying that mergers and conglomerates are an absolute evil. A lot of good can come out of them. Sometimes all a really good company needs is the aid of a powerful financial backer to become truly great. Alternately, a company may have a great product or service that can be made better with technology or tactics of another.

What I’m trying to say is that there do exist legitimate reasons for companies to merge or sell to another larger corporation.

However, the problem with conglomerate businesses is that they have the potential to limit the choice of the consumer while creating the illusion of varied selection. Using Disney as an example again, if you dislike them for some reason and want boycott them or simply not support them in any way, but you happen to love sports and want to catch up on your favorite teams, then you may be surprised to know that you are unknowingly supporting them by getting your news from ESPN.

I typically dislike corporate conglomeration for this reason. I like being able to try different takes on the things I want or need and choosing what’s best for me. What’s more, conglomeration can allow a company to skate by putting only the minimal effort into a product and rarely evolving by riding the success of the other assets they own.

Still, if I must live in a world of corporate mergers, I suppose I’d like them to take the Disney approach. They seem to act more as a glorified financial investor rather then a corporation and allow their assets to have their own identity instead of slapping their brand and trademarked business practices all over everything they own.

As for the mergers mentioned at the start of this story, my feelings are as follows.

I have no emotional investment in the AT&T/DirecTV merge as I don’t have satellite TV (I don’t watch much TV at all, in fact) and most telecommunications up my way are handled by Metrocast and Verizon. I’m certain AT&T can and will handle themselves well through this new phase of life, but I won’t be too broken up if they fail.

The Google/Twitch merge, on the other hand, is slightly more disturbing to me. Remember this; Twitch is primarily a gaming driven community that thrives off of live streams of playthroughs, Google owns YouTube, and YouTube has had a long history of bad user-infuriating decisions when it comes it interpreting copyright law – especially as applies to video game footage. Either Google will finally have to change it’s policies in this manner or Twitch could very easily fail as an entity taking several professional gamers along with it.

At this point, the most we, as the consumer public, can do is let them know what we want out of these changes and pray that they listen to the voice of reason.


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