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Shira Ovide

It’s a Tech War, and It Costs a Fortune

Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook collectively boosted capital spending by 68 percent in the first quarter.

Gold bars sit stacked in Hungary

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

One trend was clear this week: It is incredibly costly to stay ahead in the technology industry.

During the quarter ended in March, four U.S. tech superpowers -- Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook -- collectively spent $16.2 billion on capital projects, including real estate; warehouses to stow and ship packages; and data centers to fuel their cloud-computing businesses and internet hangouts. That figure, which includes assets that the tech giants effectively lease rather than own, was 68 percent higher than the companies' combined capital spending in the March quarter of 2017. The rate of growth is far higher than the companies’ pace of revenue.