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Zuckerberg and Google CEO approved deal to carve up ad market, states allege in court

5 days ago 11

Among other new details, the new filing alleges that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, helped negotiate the agreement and urged Zuckerberg’s approval, calling it “a big deal strategically.” The complaint says the team that negotiated the deal sent Zuckerberg an email telling him, “We’re nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward.”

"Facebook CEO [REDACTED] wanted to meet with COO [REDACTED] and his other executives before making a decision," says the complaint, with Zuckerberg's and Sandberg's names — but not their titles — still blacked out.

Sandberg and a Google senior vice president ultimately signed the September 2018 agreement, the lawsuit says. "Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally signed off on the terms of the deal," it adds.

Previous versions of the complaint had revealed the existence of the deal, nicknamed Jedi Blue. But the newest details show that the pact between Google and Facebook, the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the online advertising market, was negotiated and approved at the highest levels of both companies. Before joining Facebook, Sandberg was a top Google executive in charge of online sales.

The suit: The states’ suit accused Google of monopolizing the advertising technology market, the tools used to buy, sell and display the online ads that fund many websites. In November, they updated their complaint with additional details, and the judge overseeing the suit ordered parts of their allegations unsealed this week.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. But Facebook — now known as Meta — again defended the arrangement between the two companies.

“Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and the similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms, have helped to increase competition for ad placements," Meta spokesperson Christopher Sgro said in a statement Friday. "These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all.”

Meta is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

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