Pattern Matching

The Ruthless Tactics Keeping Amazon on Top

And why tech titans are thriving in a pandemic.

Will Oremus
Published in
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6 min readJul 25, 2020


Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Welcome back to Pattern Matching, OneZero’s weekly newsletter that puts the week’s most compelling tech stories in context.

As the world wheezes through a pandemic, its richest are profiting as never before. Since mid-March, America’s billionaires have seen their wealth spike 25%, a gain of $755 billion in a four-month period that has left 150,000 dead and put tens of millions out of work. Tech companies and their founders have gained most of all, led by Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Larry Ellison. Shares of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix have hit record highs. Bezos — the world’s richest man — got $13 billion richer on July 20 alone, thanks to an Amazon stock bump.

This illustrates the degree to which Big Tech’s fortunes have decoupled from those of the rest of society. When times are good, they fend off or buy up rivals and make piles of money. When times are awful, they consolidate their market power and make even more. When you control the software platforms that dominate online communication, productivity, and commerce, you can’t lose.

That control is what’s at issue in a series of antitrust hearings in the U.S. House, the next…