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Are ’FANGs’ Monopolies? A Theory of Competition under Uncertainty

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This paper lays down the rudiments of a descriptive theory of competition among the digital tech platforms known as “FANGs” (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), amidst rising academic and policy polarization over the answer to what seems to be – at least at the formulation level – a simple question: are FANGs monopolies? With an open mind, this paper looks at whether the textbook monopoly model is the appropriate framework to analyze digital markets. It finds that observed average tendencies of FANGs expose the limitations of the textbook monopoly model (I), proposes an alternative theory of competition with uncertainty (II), and considers competition law and policy implications (III). This paper builds on draft sections of a forthcoming book on tech giants and public policy (OUP, 2020).