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Hello and welcome to Trending, Business Insider’s weekly look at the world of tech. I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast Bureau Chief and Global Tech Editor. If you want to get Trending in your inbox every Wednesday, just click here.

This week: Big Tech’s Big 4 are coming to town

Zuckerberg Pichai Cook Bezos 2X1
Zuckerberg Pichai Cook Bezos 2X1

Getty/Carsten Koall/Michael Kovac/Business Insider composite

Get the popcorn and pull up a chair. If you’re even remotely interested in tech then you’ve probably heard that the CEOs of four of the most powerful companies on the planet are due to testify (virtually) in Congress today.

There’s a few reasons why this is a big deal:

  1. The chief executives are being questioned by the House antitrust subcommittee — Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — represent corporations worth a combined $4.8 TRILLION in market value. 

    The amount of power and influence these companies wield is so astronomical it’s difficult to fathom, and that’s just when looking at them through a financial lens. Nearly 3 billion people — roughly one out of every three people on Earth — rely on their products to communicate, stay informed about news and current events, and shop.  

    Surprise… CEOs like Bezos and Pichai plan to tell Congress that their companies face plenty of competition. 

  2. It’s the first time that Jeff Bezos has ever testified at a Congressional hearing.

    Bezos founded Amazon more than 25 years ago, turning an online bookstore into a commercial juggernaut that can deliver almost any product you want straight to your doorstep in a matter of days (an awesome accomplishment that has made him the world’s richest person), without ever having the chance to publicly answer lawmakers’ questions under oath at a Congressional hearing.

    Pay attention to: Bezos was praised in 2019 when he publicly confronted the National Enquirer, refusing to be shamed — and, according to Bezos, to be “extorted” — because of compromising selfies and text messages the tabloid obtained. But Bezos had plenty of resources and time to orchestrate that moment. On Wednesday, the 56-year-old Amazon founder will be on his own and the world will be watching his every move in real time.

  3. While antitrust is the stated purpose of Wednesday’s hearing, there are so many other critical issues involving these same four companies — including foreign election interference and privacy — that the discussion is certain to veer beyond the confines of competition theory.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat after a break to continue testifying before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat after a break to continue testifying before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.

    AP Photo/ Alex Brandon

    To be sure… there will political grandstanding, amusing displays of boomerism and cheap stunts. And yes, the format of quickfire questions is not ideal for substantive discussion. But with the presidential election less than 100 days away, there’s a lot at stake, and a lot of questions that need to be asked.

Business Insider will be covering the big event as it unfolds, beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, so visit the Business Insider homepage for all the latest.

The day after…

After Wednesday’s action on Capitol Hill, Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Facebook have a date with Wall Street. All four Big Tech giants report their quarterly results on Thursday in a veritable earningspalooza. Here’s what to expect:

“Any time I start anything new, something bad happens, but there was this moment of, okay, well this is just another bad thing and I guess I’ve done it before.”

— Jen Grant, CEO of Turbo Systems, who graduated from business school after the dotcom boom in 2001, left Google for a startup called Box during the 2008 financial crisis, and started her job at the top of no-code software startup Turbo in March, right as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning.

Turbo Systems CEO Jen Grant.
Turbo Systems CEO Jen Grant.

Turbo Systems

We’re five months into lockdown, and I’m still trying to find the ideal mask.

So my curiosity was piqued when I heard about this curious contraption from the good citizens of New Zealand. The battery-operated Atmos mask, from AO Air, has a fan that supplies clean air, as well as a “nanofilter” that removes pollen, dust and other particles. Most importantly, it’s clear, so you can flash a smile, grimace or scowl to all the people doing double-takes when they see you sporting this $350, space-age mask.

Atmos mask.
Atmos mask.

AO Air

Recommended Readings:

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A Google employee posted an anonymous survey asking whether working from home was hurting workers’ mental health, and two-thirds of the nearly 10,000 respondents said yes

As Verily looks to IPO, CEO Andrew Conrad says an inter-Alphabet ‘sibling rivalry’ with Google’s own health team is hurting both companies

This startup launched a drink-delivering robot but switched to a service that lets customers place their own food and drink orders. It just raised $3 million using this pitch deck

Startups like Instawork, Jitjatjo, and SnapShyft soared as the gig economy took off. Now many staffing apps are facing ‘the lowest of the lows’ as COVID crushes the businesses they serve

Not necessarily in tech:

In New York prisons, inmates say they’re punished for trying to protect themselves from coronavirus

Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it. 

— Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

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