Mixer, Free Markets, and Monopolies

While I continue to reflect on the ideas and suggestions of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, I cannot help but look at the showdown/sale of Mixer in that context. If there were to be a nutshell version of the book, it would be an argument that less government regulation and more free market leads to more efficient outcomes.

He is, however, notably opposed to monopolies as a violation of freedom by way of reducing available choices. This is, effectively, what the shutdown of Mixer represents. It is noticeable blow to the choices of both content creators and viewers because there are few other choices. As pointed out by Belghast, the difficulty of transferring viewers from one platform to another is going to directly harm the creators that used Mixer. I would almost venture to say that most of them must likely return to Twitch if they wish to retain as many viewers as possible.

What struck me about all this is that it seems to be a situation in which the “free market” is consolidating power and working against competition rather than toward it. Of course, let’s be honest, I hardly considered Facebook a serious player in this game. Facebook plus Mixer is hardly a monopoly, it represents the loss of options for users.

All things considered, it seemed unusual to me that the move didn’t require review by the Department of Justice, as most of these large mergers and acquisitions tend to. Upon looking into it, I was a bit surprised to learn that the review process only applies to transactions valued greater than 96M$. The numbers I’m seeing for Mixer are… less than that. This means it doesn’t need review, apparently.

What bothered me most about this was that it almost seems that a giant corporation such as Facebook could, in theory, run around eating up all sort of smaller companies to maintain a more monopolistic position, so long as they got them while they were still below the limit.

I think in the real world someone would eventually file an anti-trust suit, and if you managed to fly in low and get a nice initial public offering you could go public with enough value to exceed the limit. That, and a corporation cannot easily force you to sell something. You could just refuse to sell. At least until they made an offer to your liking.

It was just a thought and an observation though. I have no dog in this fight. I do you Twitch, but only rarely. This is usually because developers and publishers have developed a habit for not showing enough gameplay footage to get an idea of how a game plays. A live stream gives me a much better idea of gameplay and flow.

Y’all take care. I’m going to go stare at the wall and think about this a bit more.

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