Alphabet is a multinational technology conglomerate holding company. It was created through a restructuring of Google Inc. in October 2015, at which point Alphabet became the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries. Alphabet is headquartered in Mountain View, California and incorporated in Delaware. The Company’s Class A and Class C shares trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbols “GOOGL” and “GOOG,” respectively.
Alphabet’s subsidiary Google is a dominant player in the field of digital advertising, to the extent that it controls the digital tools that every major website publisher uses to sell advertising space on their websites.
In recent years, Google’s dominance in this industry has drawn regulatory scrutiny. In July 2018, the European Commission (“EC”) fined Google €2.42 billion for promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of its search results. Less than a year later, in March 2019, the EC fined Google €1.49 billion for preventing rivals from being able to “compete and innovate fairly” in the online advertising market. In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reported that it would investigate Google for antitrust violations. Then, in October 2020, the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that it had abused a monopoly position in the search and search advertising markets.
The complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operations, and compliance policies. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Alphabet used its dominance in the field of digital advertising to disadvantage website publishers and advertisers who used competing advertising products; (ii) the foregoing conduct was anticompetitive in nature and likely to draw significant regulatory scrutiny; (iii) Alphabet’s revenues were unsustainable to the extent that they were the product of said anticompetitive conduct; (iv) Alphabet’s conduct, once revealed, would negatively impact the Company’s reputation and expose it to a heightened risk of litigation and regulatory enforcement action; and (v) as a result, the Company’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.
On January 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice and eight states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google subsidiary, accusing Google of illegally abusing its dominance in digital advertising and violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that “Google abuses its monopoly power to disadvantage website publishers and advertisers who dare to use competing ad tech products in a search for higher quality, or lower cost, matches.”
On this news, Alphabet’s Class A shares fell $2.09 per share, or 2.09%, to close at $97.70 per share, while its Class C shares fell $2.00 per share, or 1.98%, to close at $99.21 per share, on January 24, 2023.