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There’s a famous picture from 1997 of a young Jeff Bezos, cramped in a small office, behind an old desk, with a spray painted banner hanging on the wall. If you didn’t know what Amazon, and by extension Bezos, would eventually become, you might think the picture emblematic of any number of struggling start-ups.

But what started as a small bookseller became the largest online retailer in the world, and Bezos its richest man. Similar stories could be told of other Tech giants like Facebook and Google.

The meteoric rise of these companies was not the result of a game of chance. No, the success of these platforms is directly tied to the demand for their services and the demand for their services is directly tied to value they create for people.

Take Google, a simple “search engine.” When Google was started in 1998, it drew roughly 10,000 searches a day. On the day this article was written, that number was 4.5 billion–people searching for a Christmas cornbread dressing recipe, a job, the best deal on a new refrigerator, or to open a world of knowledge that puts any dusty set of encyclopedias to shame – all in a matter of seconds.

Or how about Facebook? A platform designed in a dorm room for college kids to mess around on in 2004. It went viral and rapidly evolved to offer new services and features to an ever-expanding audience. Facebook now services over 1.6 billion users a day – connecting us to friends and family across Mississippi and the broader globe. Facebook gives small businesses and nonprofits a chance to reach new customers and supporters.

And its not just the big guys. There are millions of young technology businesses driven by ambitious young minds, all thinking about new ways to provide innovative services and products to customers – to become the next Bezos, Zuckerberg or Jobs.

The internet economy is growing and making life better. Today, nearly 6 million people are directly employed by internet-based companies, with an estimated 13 million more indirect jobs. The sector is the fourth largest in the country, adding $2.1 trillion to the national gross domestic product. In Mississippi alone, internet businesses contribute $8.6 billion to our economy, employ over 36,000 people and export $450 million in product.

The era of COVID-19 has only accelerated the trend toward technology. It is through the internet that people have worked, shopped, held class, sought medical attention through telemedicine, found entertainment, and accessed reliable information that helped them to better understand the risks associated with the pandemic.

But amid this technological renaissance, political headwinds have emerged from both sides of the aisle. In recent weeks, New York Attorney General Letitia James has launched an anti-trust lawsuit, recruiting other attorneys general from across the country to join in her crusade against “Big Tech.”

Make no mistake, the internet giants aren’t perfect. At times, they make business decisions that make you scratch your head. But the failure of a company to act the way you would act if you ran the company is not an anti-trust violation. In fact, when companies make questionable decisions it increases the likelihood of a competitor gaining market share. Nothing influences corporate behavior like competition.

Being successful is not an anti-trust violation. All of these companies have a sea of competitors, and if history is any indicator, they won’t be dominate for long. Of the 500 companies that were listed on the Fortune 500 in 1955, only 52 remain. In the technology era, this lifecycle has only accelerated.

There is a certain irony in the current climate. At once, technology has steadied the American economy and provided stability in the middle of a pandemic, and simultaneously, it has become a popular political target. Leaders in both parties should exercise caution in trying to put a govern on technology, which is designed to move much faster than most politicos can fathom and can be wrecked by an inept mechanic. A deliberate hand can avoid turning a Ferrari into a Yugo.

GERARD GIBERT is a founding partner of Venture Technologies, a technology provider he served as CEO for until its recent sale. Mr. Gibert currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Empower Mississippi.

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