This afternoon, Google and Microsoft execs are scheduled to speak with a Senate panel "to argue their respective cases for why Google should–or should not–be allowed to purchase DoubleClick for $3.1 billion."
The hearing could mark a turning point in Google's relationship with Washington. It is the first time that Congress has seriously scrutinized the fast-growing company's business strategies, and the first time that a proposed acquisition by the company has encountered such concerted political opposition.
It also represents the result of months of private lobbying and public agitation against the merger by Google's most dangerous business rivals. No stranger to antitrust issues, Microsoft has ordered its legendary army of lobbyists to torpedo the deal, and AT&T, Yahoo and Time Warner have also expressed concerns.
Both sides have hired economists as well as lobbyists. Naturally, the arguments are ostensibly about the greater good, and really about deep-sixing competitors. Still, everyone's being very careful about just how they make their case:
After their own recent high-profile acquisitions, however, it's required some careful political legerdemain for Microsoft and other Google rivals to argue against the DoubleClick purchase. Yahoo bought online advertising firm Right Media. AOL bought German ad-serving firm Adtech AG and Tacoda, which does online behavioral targeting. Microsoft spent $6 billion buying advertising firm Aquantive, a DoubleClick rival, and online advertising exchange AdECN Inc.
More on Google and governments here.