Microsoft's Satya Nadella says the US tech industry needs to be more open to foreign competition: 'I think we celebrate our own advances far too much'

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said US tech firms need to welcome competition from outside the US.
  • “There is no God-given right” for the US to be the only tech power, Nadella told Bloomberg.
  • While tech companies growing larger isn’t inherently negative, “competition is good,” he said.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is calling for more competition in the tech world — and urging US tech companies to pay close attention to their rivals around the world. 

In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang published Wednesday, Nadella said that while US tech companies growing larger in size and scope isn’t inherently negative, “competition is good” — particularly from companies outside the US. 

“There is no God-given right for US tech companies to take for granted that there cannot be other tech powers,” Nadella said. “All of us in the West Coast of the United States need to be more grounded, because sometimes I think we celebrate our own advances far too much.”

He said that US companies should be keeping a close eye on what foreign companies are doing and ensuring that their own technology is relevant, according to Bloomberg.

Nadella also hinted at some of the critiques around companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google, which are all under antitrust scrutiny in the US. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued that these Silicon Valley firms have grown rapidly and crushed their competition, resulting in an unfair hold over the market. 

“You need to have a business model that really is aligned with the world doing well,” Nadella said. “There are certain categories of products where the unintended consequences of the growth on that category or lack of competition creates issues.”

Read more: Experts share their top 7 predictions on what’s ahead for Microsoft in 2021, including a potential $10 billion-plus acquisition to take on Salesforce

Nadella has served as Microsoft’s CEO since 2014, which means Microsoft’s own antitrust issues far predate his tenure. In May 1998, the Department of Justice filed suit against Microsoft, alleging the company had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The suit followed testimony by cofounder and then-CEO Bill Gates before Congress, where he addressed Microsoft’s market power and whether the company was abusing it.

A court initially ruled that Microsoft should be broken up into two separate companies, but Microsoft appealed and eventually settled with the US government, agreeing to change its ways. 

While Microsoft has avoided the recent scrutiny of its peers in the US, however, it is facing a possible antitrust probe of its own by the European Union. Last July, workplace chat app company Slack filed suit against Microsoft in EU, accusing it of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by linking its Teams chat app to the popular Office 356 suite.

Nadella downplayed Slack‘s allegations, telling Bloomberg that Microsoft provides “the most open platform in Windows and even in Office 365.”

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