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Small Business Owners, Tech Firms Talk Main Street Impact of Digital Platforms

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Small Business heard from small business owners and representatives of large technology companies on the impact of digital services and tools on small businesses.

“The digital age has caused a revolution for small businesses… Small firms can now utilize cutting edge products and services to respond to market changes more swiftly, being agile to adapt to inevitable curve balls, and improve efficiencies to drive profit,” said Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH).  “Have there been some concerns regarding privacy, and intellectual property concerns?  Of course there have, but by and large, the development of these digital platform products and services from these tech giants has been a boon for the millions of individual small businesses that would never have existed without them.  We are the Small Business Committee, but we like all businesses; as competition drives progress, growth, and economic expansion.”

Technology Provides Valuable Benefits, Frustration for Small Business Owners

“When Amazon first invited third parties to start selling on Amazon in 1999, they represented just 3 percent of our sales, totaling $100 million… Now, over 58 percent of the value of physical products sold in Amazon’s stores come from small and medium-sized businesses – totaling $160 billion,” said Mr. Dharmesh M. Mehta, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon, in Seattle, WA. 

“American small businesses are creating and building amazing things even as they face new challenges.  And we believe larger companies like Google should be play a role in helping them succeed,” said Ms. Erica Swanson, Head of Community Engagement, Grow with Google, Google, in Mountain View, CA.   

“Both the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses have grown in an increasingly global economy with a ubiquitous Internet that lets consumers quickly compare prices, find reviews, and shop online,” said Dr. Joe Kennedy, Senior Fellow, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, in Washington, DC.  “On the whole, Internet platforms play a positive role in helping businesses of all sizes deal with these changes.”

“It is so easy to say ‘big is bad’… and to take for granted the opportunity and access to opportunity that deserves celebration and protection,” said Mr. Jake Ward, President, Connected Commerce Council, in Washington, DC.  “Digital technology, digital platforms, and digital tools help small businesses start, grow and succeed in previously unimaginable ways – not only locally but way beyond traditional geographic limitations.”

“The entry of platforms created novel opportunities for consumers and developers,” said Mr. Graham Dufault, Senior Director for Public Policy, ACT | The App Association, in Washington, DC.  “But while platforms provide some of the infrastructure, developers bring smart devices to life… The symbiotic relationship between apps and platforms is not perfect, but it has created a powerful ecosystem that continues to benefit consumers.”

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