Last week represented another important milestone in the regulatory process regarding Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. That’s because 38 signatories filed nine “friend of the court” briefs in support of Microsoft’s position in the appellate review of the decision made by the district court in July to deny the FTC’s request to block the transaction, after hearing arguments in San Francisco.
Last week’s briefs represent an almost unprecedented range of diverse parties stepping up to be heard, rarely seen for a case below the Supreme Court. The briefs brought together groups that traditionally stand on opposite sides of key issues, such as the business community and labor organizations. Additionally, briefs were filed by groups that seldom get involved in legal appeals, including independent game developers and venture capital firms.
The briefs filed last week represent more than 37 million employees from businesses of all sizes belonging to two leading business organizations, more than 12 million workers from two key unions, eight former enforcers from the FTC and DOJ, five independent game developers who compete in the market every day, and more.
Together, these briefs make it clear that this case is about more than a single transaction. They highlight the significance of establishing an environment in gaming and other industries that support the ability to challenge market leaders by encouraging innovation and creating favorable conditions for competition. As we’ve said since we announced this acquisition, our goal is to bring more games to more people and create new ways for people to buy games and for developers to reach their customers.
The coalition of business – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable – and labor – including the AFL-CIO and Communications Workers of America (CWA) – isn’t the only unusual aspect of last week’s briefs. Briefs were also filed by:
- Nine leading economists who teach at institutions ranging from George Mason University to the University of California, Berkeley. The others include University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, and University of Southern California.
- Eight former antitrust enforcers including three from the Reagan administration, one from the Clinton administration, one from the George W. Bush administration, two from the Obama administration, and one from the Trump administration.
- Seven venture capital firms that vigorously compete to fund and grow promising startups, including three led by underrepresented minorities. They include Launchbay Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Marque Ventures, Origins Fund, Spice Capital, Symphonic Capital, and Trilogy Equity Partners.
Since we announced this acquisition 21 months ago, we’ve worked hard to show regulators around the world that we’re willing to proactively address concerns together and actively solve any issues they raise. This has included agreements with companies across the industry, as well as a groundbreaking labor neutrality agreement with the CWA to support its ability to engage workers should the deal close. Since the district court’s decision, we’ve signed additional agreements with other industry participants – including Sony – to bring Call of Duty to more than 150 million more people, and divested cloud streaming rights for Activision games.
As last week’s briefs demonstrate, withholding our ability to close this transaction would be a step backward for the economy, the ability of workers to organize, the gaming industry itself, and the future of effective antitrust enforcement. Antitrust enforcers play a key role in protecting consumers, and we’ve been public that we’re eager to engage the FTC in discussion about what more we can do to resolve its concerns.