‘Cable Cowboy’ John Malone Warns that Google Will Be ‘Broken Up’

September 3, 2018

Lucas Nolan

Veteran media and telecoms investor John Malone, known as the “Cable Cowboy,” has predicted in a recent speech that Google will be “broken up” by competition watchdogs as the tech firm is growing too large.

The Telegraph reports that billionaire media and telecoms investor John Malone, known as the “Cable Cowboy”, who controls a vast empire of media groups including British group Virgin Media, television network Discovery, travel website TripAdvisor and the Hollywood production studio Lionsgate, stated in a recent talk with Virgin Media staff that Google will soon be forced to stop offering other services while operating their web search function which dominates the Internet.

Malone stated: “In my opinion, Google will be broken up and will not be allowed to go vertical on services, anything in which they control the search algorithm and figure out *presenting it to the consumer.” Malone stated that Google’s ability to steer web traffic towards certain sites using their web search engine and drive traffic away from competing sites will result in severe repercussions for the company. Google denies taking part in these practices but just last year, European watchdogs found issue with the company for exactly these practices in relation to their Google Shopping feature and fined the company $2.7 billion.

“We own a company called TripAdvisor… When you go on a mobile site, you might get two or three results of a search,” said Malone. “For a company that is quite dependent on getting its traffic from search, when Google decides they’re going to change their algorithm … game over. Now, I don’t think that can sustain. I think that will ultimately fail.”

Malone also discussed the threat that services such as Netflix pose to television broadcasters, he stated that major Hollywood studios attempting to gain control over their own market through mergers and bidding battles were “late to the party.”

“In my opinion it’s being driven by a phenomenon of disintermediation that’s taking place where Amazon and Netflix are going to the writers and the producers and the directors and saying what do you need the studio for?” stated Malone. “The traditional role of the studio was to finance ideas and then distribute. Both of those are better done, at least in [Netflix chief executive] Reed Hastings’ mind, by Reed Hastings.”

Malone continued: “So, as a result, somebody like *Rupert [Murdoch] is looking at the *future and saying this content is either going to cost me a lot more money to create, and I still might not be successful, or I’ve got to take my assets, put them *together with Disney’s and maybe *together we have enough scale that we can play in that global game. But, you know, they are late to the party. So it’s going to be an interesting phenomenon.”