Ex-Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya thinks governments will go after Big Tech and break them up within a decade

Key Points
  • Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya told the CB Insights conference that regulators are going to come down hard on Big Tech in the next 10 years. 
  • Palihapitiya said Big Tech firms undermine what the regulators want — power. 
  • He believes regulators will tax companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon "to death."  
Chamath Palihapitiya
Olivia Michael | CNBC

Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya believes that governments will break up the world's largest technology companies in the next decade.

The former Facebook vice president of user growth, who joined Mark Zuckerberg's social media firm when it was less than a year old, told attendees of an online tech event that Big Tech will be forced to succumb to regulators in the end.

"Are they going to get broken up? Yes. Will every single government go after them? Absolutely. State, local, federal … all around the world," Palihapitiya said, before going on to call out Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple.

"First, they'll get taxed to death, then they'll get trust-busted," he told the Financial Times' Robin Wigglesworth on a video call that was broadcast as part of the CB Insights tech conference.

In terms of how long it will take, Palihapitiya said: "Over the next 10 years, I don't know when it's going to happen, but regulators will get their way."

He added: "The reason is because these internet companies undermine what regulators want, which is power. And the more you distribute power and information to the edges, the more in the crosshairs you will be. You will not be able to stop what these regulators want to do."

While at Facebook, Palihapitiya made side investments in a start-up that was acquired by Google and a start-up that was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. He also backed Peter Thiel's Palantir, which is now valued at over $20 billion. He left Facebook in 2011 to start his own venture capital fund called Social Capital, which has backed messaging app Slack.

EU clamp down

Earlier this week, the EU launched two antitrust probes into Apple. The first centers on whether or not it's right for Apple's App Store to take a commission on in-app purchases. Spotify, which competes directly with Apple Music, feels this is unfair and filed a formal complaint in March 2019. Kobo, an e-reader company that competes with Apple Books, has also filed a complaint. 

With regards to Apple Pay, the EU said it will look at Apple's terms and conditions for integrating Apple Pay in apps and websites, Apple's limitation of access to NFC technology, and alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay.

The EU has launched other antitrust investigations into Google, Amazon, and Facebook in recent months.

Palihapitiya noted how Microsoft is the only big technology company to evade the antitrust regulators, but he doesn't see this lasting forever.

"These guys will get broken up," said Palihapitiya,. "I don't think there's an appetite to allow them to exist the way they are."