The woman who served as the Federal Trade Commission’s lead lawyer in 2012 is now at Facebook. One of Microsoft’s lawyers at the time is now in the running to head the Biden Justice Department’s antitrust division. Many of the people who were involved in the FTC’s Obama-era probe of Google are still players in the antitrust fights involving the tech giants — sometimes for the opposite side.
Here’s a look at where some of the key players in the FTC investigation are now. (One of the agency’s five commissioners from that era, Republican Tom Rosch, died in 2016.)
This story is a part of The Google Files, a POLITICO investigation into the FTC’s 2012 antitrust probe of the burgeoning search giant.
The Democratic FTC chair at the time of the Google investigation, Leibowitz stepped down two months later to take a job at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, which is representing Facebook in antitrust investigations that have led to lawsuits by the FTC and state attorneys general. Leibowitz isn’t involved with those suits.
A Democratic FTC commissioner at the time of the Google investigation, Ramirez was elevated to chair of the agency by former President Barack Obama two months after the probe closed. Ramirez served as chair until the end of the Obama administration and left the FTC in February 2017. She is now a partner at Hogan Lovells, where she has represented Google’s YouTube in class actions over children’s privacy.
A Democratic FTC commissioner at the time of the Google investigation, Brill left the agency in March 2016. She initially moved to the law firm Hogan Lovells before taking a job as vice president for global privacy at Microsoft.
A Republican FTC commissioner at the time of the Google investigation, Ohlhausen was named acting chair of the FTC by former President Donald Trump in January 2017. She left the FTC in September 2018 and is now a partner at the law firm Baker Botts. She is representing Amazon in an FTC investigation into the company’s former mergers and does some work for Facebook.
The lead FTC staff attorney on the Google investigation, Blank left the FTC in April 2020 to join Facebook as associate general counsel for competition and regulatory affairs.
An FTC staff attorney on the Google investigation, Viswanath left the FTC in December 2013 and is now a special counsel at the law firm Cooley, where she has represented Google in patent cases.
One of two FTC staff economists assigned to the Google probe, Yun left the FTC in July 2017 and is now an associate professor at George Mason University’s law school. He also serves as director of economic education at the school’s Global Antitrust Institute, which receives funding from Amazon, Facebook and Google, among others. GAI’s ties to the tech companies recently raised eyebrows in Congress.
Willard K. Tom
The FTC general counsel during part of the Google probe, Tom left the agency in November 2012 and joined the law firm Morgan Lewis. He represents Google in an antitrust lawsuit filed against it by Fortnite maker Epic Games.
Susan Creighton and Jonathan Jacobson
Partners at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Creighton and Jacobson represented Google before the FTC and are also representing the company in the suits brought by the Justice Department and state attorneys general.
A partner at Williams & Connolly, Schmidtlein represented Google before the FTC and is also representing the company in the suits brought by the Justice Department and state attorneys general.
An FTC staff attorney on the Google investigation, Rhilinger left the commission in January 2021 to take a position at Facebook as associate general counsel for competition and regulatory affairs.
The director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics, Shelanski left the agency in June 2013 to become administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a position he retained until the end of the Obama administration. Shelanski later joined the law firm Davis Polk, where he has represented Facebook in an FTC antitrust investigation.
Thomas O. Barnett
Barnett is a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling. He represented Facebook, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Verizon in the FTC’s Google investigation. He still represents Facebook, most recently in the FTC’s antitrust case against the social network.
At the time of the FTC’s Google investigation, Kanter was a partner at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and represented Microsoft. Kanter now has his own law firm and represents Google complainants in the cases brought by the Justice Department and state attorneys general. He has been under consideration by the Biden administration for assistant attorney general for antitrust at the Justice Department.