Santa Monica, CA — Genentech Board Chairman Arthur D. Levinson should quit as a director of either Internet giant Google or Apple to avoid antitrust violations, Consumer Watchdog said today, following the resignation of Eric Schmidt from the Apple board.
The call from the nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer group came after the announcement that Google Chairman and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who held the same dual role, was stepping down from Apple’s board. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating for several months whether Apple and Google had violated antitrust laws by sharing two directors.
“It took Eric Schmidt far too long to realize that the two roles are incompatible; that’s not surprising considering the clubby atmosphere of Silicon Valley,” said John M. Simpson, a Consumer Watchdog consumer advocate. “Nonetheless, we’re glad Schmidt finally did the right thing; we call on Levinson to act responsibly and choose one company or the other.”
Google and Apple are increasingly competing with each other in such areas as mobile telephone technology and computer operating systems. Last week the Federal Communications Commission said it would probe Apple’s decision to block Google Voice as an application for Apple’s iPhone.
Levinson’s company, Genentech, has other ties to Google. It is an investor, with Google, in the direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, 23andMe, run by Anne Wojcicki. She is the wife of Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder.
Google is also under investigation by the Justice Department to determine whether its proposed Google Books settlement violates antitrust laws.
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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Our website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org