Blue Tent: Sarah Miller on Battling Tech Monopolies

April 5, 2021 Media

It may have taken economic collapse, a pandemic and the election of Donald Trump, but after decades out of style, aggressive antitrust enforcement is finally back in vogue. While many icons of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s were titans of industry in tech, finance and beyond, today’s trendsetters—like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders—are lining up against some of those very same wealthy magnates, seeking to break up companies like Amazon, Google and Goldman Sachs.

Less famous but just as valuable to these efforts are organizations like the Open Markets Institute and American Economic Liberties Project, whose research and advocacy have helped drive the new antitrust movement. Sarah Miller is an alumnus of Open Markets and now executive director of AELP, where she oversees a staff of more than a dozen people operating with a budget around $2 million. Ironically, a fair amount of that budget, Miller says, comes from foundations funded by tech giant co-founders like Pierre Omidyar and Chris Hughes.

But it’s not just tech companies or big banks that have drawn Miller’s ire; she and her AELP cohort see monopolies across numerous industries, from pharmaceuticals to telecom and agriculture, where overpowered companies are immiserating workers, bilking consumers, and making themselves rich and powerful beyond belief. With Democrats back in power and popular will clamoring for intervention against massive corporations, Miller and her team are hoping to make the most of the moment. In a recent phone conversation with Blue Tent, Miller discussed shifting attitudes among the right and left when it comes to corporate power, how Amazon and Google may resist regulation, and more.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.