We now know exactly what Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg think about before they acquire a startup

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antitrust hearing zuckerberg bezos cook pichaiGraeme Jennings – Pool/Getty Images/MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Business Insider

Hello!

It’s been a dizzying week for Big Tech, with Jeff Bezos et al appearing in front of Congress, then Big Tech reported earnings, before the week wrapped up with an unexpected twist involving Tik Tok, President Trump, and Microsoft

For smart commentary on the Congressional hearing on tech antitrust, I’d recommend these opinion pieces:

Personally, I often find some of the most illuminating takeaways to be buried in the documents that are released as part of the hearing. These can offer a window into how top executives think and communicate. The picture they paint is often less than flattering. For example:

As Becky Peterson reported:

Market position, “land grabs,” and winning were all top considerations for the CEOs at Amazon, Facebook and Google ahead of major acquisitions, according to emails and instant messages made public on Wednesday as part of Congressional hearing over possible anticompetitive practices in tech.

The documents give unique insight into the thought processes of these powerful (and often rash) men on the eve of big purchases, which over time have proven to completely rewrite the technology landscape. Ultimately, the messages show, none of these companies made their most high-profile acquisitions because of the quality of the technology.

You can read her story in full:

Now we know exactly what Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook think about before they make giant startup acquisitions

What were your takeaways from the hearing?

And what do you make of Microsoft’s interest in buying TikTok? The outcome is difficult to predict now that President Trump has said he’s against a deal, but the very fact that Microsoft had been keen is fascinating.

Email me at mturner@businessinsider.com. I’d love to hear from you. 

Exxon’s stealthy job cuts

FILE PHOTO: The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant Reuters

From Benji Jones:

Like many of her colleagues, Katie considered herself a hard worker. Her manager told her as much, often throwing compliments her way about the value she was delivering to Exxon — her employer and the largest oil company in the US.

Earlier this summer, she was told she was in good standing, quelling fears that she’d be axed as part of Exxon’s performance-based cuts, which were ramping up in the wake of the worst oil downturn in a generation. Then everything changed.

Days ago, Katie was told she was among the company’s worst performers during Exxon’s annual review process. Her options were to resign or enroll in a performance-improvement plan that she understood employees rarely passed.

Benji reported that Exxon is disguising layoffs as performance-based job cuts, citing current and former employees. Several employees said they received no negative feedback before being told that they were ranked as poor performers and forced out of the company, he reported. 

You can read the story in full here:

Internal documents, leaked audio, and 20 insiders reveal Exxon made managers dub more employees poor performers as the oil giant sought to quietly cut staff

Inside the Young Living empire

young living mlm 4Photographic illustration by Hollis Johnson/Business Insider; Source photograph via “Seed to Seal: D. Gary Young”

Young Living, a multi-level marketing company that boasts celebrity endorsements from the likes of Ellen Pompeo, Jenna Dewan, and Kristin Cavallari, claims revenues of $1.5 billion a year from its network of 6 million members, Nicole Einbinder reports.

From her story:

  • 89% of all its members sit on the company’s bottom rung of sellers, earning, on average, only $4 — that’s four dollars — annually.
  • While Young Living members worked to keep their businesses afloat, the founders of the company earned a lavish lifestyle in a $1.3 million 10,000-square-foot mansion, trips to far-flung countries, and private planes.
  • The company is being sued by plaintiffs who allege it’s “an illegal pyramid scheme.” The company denies the claims.
  • “Young Living disputes many of these claims as outdated, misleading, or exaggerated,” the company told Business Insider. “The company has instituted robust compliance practices and complies with applicable laws.”

You can read the story in full here:

How Young Living lures desperate people into its multilevel sales network, where 89% of members make, on average, $4 annually

Separately, Nicole reported that while Young Living founder Gary Young’s official life story is sunlit and ruggedly all-American, the evidence paints a less flattering portrait. From her story:

Young’s early career included enrolling at a school dedicated to the teachings of a man who was convicted of practicing medicine without a license after a patient died. Young himself was convicted of illegally posing as a health practitioner. He did time in Spokane County Jail in Washington.

You can read that story in full here:

Inside Gary Young’s criminal history, secret past, and his cultlike leadership of the Young Living ‘essential oils’ empire

I’ll be out next week, so you’ll be hearing from Olivia Oran. Below are headlines on some of the stories you might have missed from the past week. 

— Matt

A decade-old settlement shows a top aide to Kamala Harris mysteriously left her California AG’s office with a $35,000 taxpayer-funded settlement check

The 31 top power players helping CEO Evan Spiegel run Snap

200-plus money managers pay thousands to set eyes on Jim Osman’s stock buy list. Here are 2 he says are set to soar — and an under-the-radar IPO to keep a watch on

Walmart is pushing harder into advertising with a new tool that shows if people buy a product after seeing an ad for it

This Google leadership exec quit after months spent meditating under lockdown: ‘I could never go back to that lifestyle.’

OpenSpace, a startup that applies AI to managing building sites, used this pitchdeck to nab $15 million. Here’s a look at its vision to be the ‘telemedicine of construction.’

Top VCs say these 9 legal tech startups are poised to take off as clients pressure law firms on costs

Why you should think twice before starting a ‘pandemic pod’ for your kids instead of school in the fall

Bastion Balance Seoul, Korea.