Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz will step down from the agency in mid-February after eight years in the position.
Many in Washington anticipated his move, announced late Thursday in a number of leading national newspapers, since last year.
But first, Leibowitz had a few things on his “to do” list that he wanted to finish, including closing the agency’s two-year antitrust investigation into Google and passing updated rules to the children’s privacy laws. On Friday, the FTC is expected to release a staff report on mobile privacy and related enforcement action.
This is part of the normal comings and goings in Washington. Hillary Clinton is no longer Secretary of State after today and it seems like there is always a cabinet job being filled for some reason or another. It’s how Washington, DC works.
So why the interest in Mr. Liebowitz leaving? Well, if you are Google it’s probably not the best of news. With most everyone feeling like Google got away with something by coming away relatively unscathed following a two year long investigation by the Liebowitz led FTC regarding monopoly and anti-trust concerns, this move means that the next person who is hired could have a huge Google bee in their bonnet and start the process again.
It’s what happens every 4 or 8 years in the US when a new president, whether they are of the same party as the departing president or not, needs to make their mark. They need to pee on a few hydrants, if you will, and mark their territory. The FTC position will be no different. The talks of who this person might be are already humming.
Now the Washington parlor game of who will succeed Leibowitz goes into high gear. The most popular supposition is that Leibowitz’s successor will come from the inside, either Democratic commissioners Julie Brill or Edith Ramirez. Others named floated include Howard Shelanski, director of the FTC bureau of economics.
What better way to make a splash than for the incoming FTC leader to let Microsoft and the Fair Search cronies bend their ear and tell them that Mr. Liebowitz totally missed the mark on Google and that more needs to be done?
Who knows but don’t be surprised if there aren’t more ‘Google is a monopoly!’ war cries in the near future especially if the European Commission takes a harder stance than the US did.
Will this move open the door to take another look at Google’s business? I suspect it might be a good time to get a resume to Google if you are a lawyer who might have certain skills.
Will this impact you as a marketer? You never know so you better stay alert.