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Antitrust Limits on Startup Acquisitions

Kevin Bryan () and Erik Hovenkamp ()
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Erik Hovenkamp: USC Gould School of Law

Review of Industrial Organization, 2020, vol. 56, issue 4, No 4, 615-636

Abstract: Abstract Should there be limits on startup acquisitions by dominant firms? Efficiency requires that startups sell their technology to the right incumbents, that they develop the right technology, and that they invest the right amount in R&D. In a model of differentiated oligopoly, we show distortions along all three margins if there are no limits on startup acquisition. Leading incumbents make acquisitions partially to keep lagging incumbents from catching up technologically. When startups can choose what kind of technology they invent, they are biased toward inventions that improve the leader’s technology rather than those that help the laggard incumbent catch up. Further, upon obtaining a pure monopoly, the leading incumbent’s marginal willingness to pay for new technologies falls abruptly, which diminishes private returns on future innovations. We consider antitrust measures that could mitigate these problems.

Keywords: Antitrust; Startups; IO theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s11151-020-09751-5

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