Billionaire liberal political activist George Soros has recently heightened his criticism of major tech companies such as Facebook and Google’s parent company Alphabet despite previously investing millions into them.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Soros said that he is considering measures to counter the influence of key tech companies. Soros called their behavior “monopolistic” and accused the companies of being “obstacles of innovation.”
“The rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the U.S. government’s impotence,” Soros wrote in an op-ed. “These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown ever more powerful, they have become obstacles to innovation, and have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.”
Soros, however, has deeply invested in Facebook and other projects associated with the company, and also holds thousands of shares of Alphabet. In 2012, he spent more than $10 million to acquire a stake in Facebook and was later a member of a group of 20 billionaires, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that invested in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which was established to support clean energy initiatives.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, Soros purchased more than 350,000 shares in Facebook and increased his shares in Alphabet to 20,200, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Soros joined other wealthy liberal donors in 2016 to fund the International Fact Checking Network, an organization tasked with flagging “fake news” stories on Facebook.
In 2017, Soros began reducing his investments in tech companies, selling his stakes in Apple and Snap, among others. At the end of last year, Soros had reportedly divested himself from Facebook.
According to Soros Fund Management’s most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Soros continues to maintain thousands of shares in Alphabet, and has increased his number of shares from 3,000 to 4,600 since mid-November 2017.
Soros’s Open Society Foundations claims that it is “examining new ways to counter the influence of big tech” and has awarded a six-figure grant to the Open Markets Institute, a group that uses journalism to promote awareness of monopolization, for “work around web platforms.”