Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan speaks during The New York Times annual DealBook Summit in New York City on Nov. 29, 2023.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan defended her track record in court when it comes to blocking mergers, saying she believes the agency should take big swings and she’s “quite pleased” with the work it has done so far under her tenure, which started in June 2021.
Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday, Khan said that whenever the FTC brings a case, “you want to win it,” but that whenever there’s a loss, the agency will “try to figure out what went wrong.”
The FTC has had some high-profile losses during Khan’s tenure, including a failed attempt to block Facebook parent Meta from buying virtual reality company Within Unlimited. It also lost a fight to stop Microsoft‘s $69 billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard, though the agency is still appealing the court ruling.
Under her leadership, Khan said the FTC has brought 11 cases against mergers, and in five instances, the companies abandoned their plans after the agency filed suit. There were 14 deals that were dropped during the FTC’s investigation, she added.
“Big picture, of course the two cases that we lost we would’ve wanted to win, but we’re quite pleased overall with our efforts,” Khan said on stage.
Khan is in the middle of what could be a career-defining antitrust case. In September, the FTC and 17 states sued Amazon, accusing the retail giant of wielding its “monopoly power” to artificially rise prices, degrade quality for shoppers and stifle competition. The lawsuit was long anticipated, as Khan rose to prominence for her 2017 Yale Law Journal article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.”
Khan argued in the piece that the prevailing antitrust framework at the time, which focused primarily on monopolies’ harm to consumers, failed to capture the ways tech giants such as Amazon are able to dominate in the digital world even while offering lower prices and more selection to consumers.
The agency has also taken aim at Amazon’s Prime service, alleging it tricked users into signing up for the program and intentionally complicated the cancellation process. Amazon has disputed both of the FTC’s lawsuits, calling them “wrong on the facts and the law.”
In the interview Wednesday, Khan said she doesn’t subscribe to Prime, which costs $139 a year and includes perks such as free shipping, access to streaming content and discounts on Whole Foods groceries.
Asked why she hasn’t subscribed to Prime, Khan replied, “I just haven’t.”
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