Big Tech - The rise of GAFAAMT Infographics

The internet age promised a period of access and opportunity for all, but in two decades it has become a world controlled by a tiny oligopoly. Seven firms in particular - five US and two Chinese - have taken over the Internet. How did they become so powerful?

Seven companies - Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, Microsoft and Tencent (GAFAAMT) - each have more users than the population of most countries.

Big tech's users

In the space of a couple of decades, they have become the most profitable companies, competing with oil companies, car makers and banks.

Big tech profitiability

The big 7 - GAFAAMT - control our devices and what we see and where we see it.

Who controls our browser?
Who controls our phone?
Top 20 most visited websites

How did GAFAAMT become so powerful?

First, and crucially, their rise to power was facilitated by the supply of easy finance from investors, both management asset management funds and venture capital.


Who owns big tech?
Platform economy has boomed on financial capital

Second, they have used this dominance to lock out or buy out any potential competitors and to secure record profits.

Big tech gobbling up small tech

Third, they have taken over key infrastructure of the internet to cement their dominance and to design the market to their benefit.

Control of cloud computing
Internet cable capacity
Kilomteres of submarine cables owned by major content providers

Fourth, they have received active support from states which have sought to profit from their vast user base and surveillance capacities to serve national security interests

U.S. security departments contracts with big tech

Fifth, they have used their economic power to stifle or derail regulations that would impinge on their power.

Lobbying expenditures in the US
Europe's top corporate lobbyists

The result is a digital world in which a few companies secure extraordinary profits, workers and suppliers are squeezed, and a business model of surveillance is normalised.

Uber owners vs employee income
Amazon should 'approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle' (Jeff Bezos)

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