Mr. Google Goes To Washington

from the hello,-lobbyists! dept

In Silicon Valley, there's generally a general dislike for the politics of Washington DC -- and the concept that firms should need to hire "lobbyists" is pretty distasteful. Unfortunately, though, it's very much necessary for a larger company these days. The NY Times is the latest to cover Google's efforts on K Street. However, while other industries and large companies have pretty well-defined lobbying agendas, reading over this article, it becomes pretty clear that (so far, at least), Google's lobbying agenda is pretty reactive. Basically, they're dealing with stopping legislation that could be harmful to them. That makes sense for a company whose culture is pretty much one of independence and expects (or, at least, hopes) for a hands off approach from the government. The problem is that other industries are proactively lobbying for beneficial legislation (often written by them). It's nice that Google hasn't necessarily reached that stage yet -- but can it last?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 1:57am

    Bull Puckey

    Despite whatever pretenses tech companies like to state in Silicon Valley, the very same tech companies have well-established lobbies in Washington to secure government contracts. Most tech companies depend on government contracts, government tax breaks, and other government handouts for economic survival. Tech companies that do not know this part of the game disappear quickly. They are like any other industry that likes to posture about how they don't "need" the government -- but then go begging for government handouts behind the scenes. Every successful tech company has friends with high-powered politicians. A tech company's survival depends more on political connections than on anything they accomplish.

    After all, techies wouldn't exist if it weren't for government-subsidized training that gave them their schooling in the first place. Without government-sponsored universities, government-paid professors, or government-funded financial aid, techies couldn't hope to afford their own training.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Griff (profile), Mar 28th, 2006 @ 4:16am

    Re: Bull Puckey

    >> A tech company's survival depends more on political connections than on anything they accomplish.
    I think this is overstating the case somewhat.

    Local politicians will help out any company that employs enough people, Federal govt loves companies that pay a lot of tax. Actual connections are only essential if you're doing something that could make you enemies.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 5:24am

    Re: Bull Puckey

    Oh, come on.
    1) Plenty of tech companies exist with consumer-oriented markets, meaning they have little to no interaction with government contracts. There are plenty of niche markets that are of appeal only to consumers, and you can't land a government contract in a market where the government could care less. Therefore, your theory is meaningless for all of those companies.

    2) In those markets where the government does care, you're arguing a causal relationship without evidence. You're saying that companies with government backing succeed while others fail without bothering to examine the possibility that companies that succeed get government backing. Success attracts money; get over it.

    3) Some techies, including myself and many of the ones I spend most of my time with, went to private institutions with private funding, privately-paid professors, privately-supported financial aid, and we are all currently doing just fine. Your supposition that we require the support of the government to become educated is simply wrong.

    Get over it.

     

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  4.  
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    Matt Chase, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 6:04am

    Re: Bull Puckey

    That's the most retarded argument I’ve ever heard of.

    Based upon your assumption that tech companies beg for government assistance due to the techies themselves being indebt to the government via student loans, you're basically stating that every company and every person in this nation is begging for handouts from the government.

    While this isn't a political debate (I would agree the government is too large and "keyed in") I disagree with the basis of your argument. There are many other reasons companies (and individuals) run to the government for contracts, and I would wager that the money is there for the taking... not that the entities couldn't find it somewhere else, or survive without it.

    You furthermore have left out the fact that while student loans are popular, not everybody needs them, and not all of them come from the government. And not all schools/universities are government run/funded.

    The whole basis for your argument is LUDACRIS, and you leave out so many variables with your sweeping, ignorant, generalizations!

     

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  5.  
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    discojohnson, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 6:17am

    google doesn't need the gov't

    see the subject line. they small amount of money they make from the gov't is nothing compared to the $$billions they make off you and me.

     

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  6.  
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    wheels4me, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:03am

    lessons learned

    My simplistic observation of what happened to Microsoft is that before the attack by the government, they did not have much by way of lobbyists or spending going in DC. Now they do. Lawsuit over.

    Google is simply being pro-active and ahead of the learning curve. Good for them, somebody has to counterbalance the re-grouped Telcos.

     

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  7.  
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    Kxpuc, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Bull Puckey

    Google make enemies? no way! everyone loves them from answers.com, to yahoo to MS

     

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  8.  
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    Kalmi, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Bull Puckey

    Why would MS love them? MS have MSN Search, that can't do anything compared to Googe....

     

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  9.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    As long as google fights for freedom versus dollars, I'll root for them. No pun intended.

     

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  10.  
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    Moogle, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bull Puckey

    MS loves them with sarcasm!

    Back on topic, (yeah, a first for me...) lobbying is an economic market. A company will spend money to influence the government to give them a monopoly, and competitors will spend money to reduce the monopoly so they can break into the market.

    It's a god damned stupid market that does nothing but throw money at greedy politicians, but it's hard to get rid of. (Try convincing those politicians to pass laws that take away their cushy corporate johns.) Once you've exhausted the market's ability to differentiate between products, you have to compete at the political level. To refuse to compete is just as deadly as refusing to lower prices or improve your product, if your competition is doing those things.

     

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  11.  
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    Stop to think this one through...., Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:46am

    RE: Bull Puckey

    Dorpus--
    Do you have any basis for your opinions? I really am intrigued if you are right. Please, give us some examples of every claim you made. Otherwise, think first.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 7:52am


    Based upon your assumption that tech companies beg for government assistance due to the techies themselves being indebt to the government via student loans, you're basically stating that every company and every person in this nation is begging for handouts from the government.


    They do, directly or indirectly. Some people talk big about their "libertarianist" philosophies, but it is in fact an expensive, decadent luxury that requires extensive government support to make it happen.

    Some techies, including myself and many of the ones I spend most of my time with, went to private institutions with private funding, privately-paid professors, privately-supported financial aid, and we are all currently doing just fine. Your supposition that we require the support of the government to become educated is simply wrong.

    The schools are "private" in name only. There is not a school on Earth that is entirely free from government support. Research grants, classroom equipment, all are paid through government. The schools may make a sales pitch of being "private", for people who have an anti-government grudge.


    The whole basis for your argument is LUDACRIS, and you leave out so many variables with your sweeping, ignorant, generalizations!


    I think you are trying to say ludicrous.

    There are plenty of niche markets that are of appeal only to consumers, and you can't land a government contract in a market where the government could care less.

    What are these niche markets, and how do we know the government isn't intimately involved through consumer safety standards, etc.?

     

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  13.  
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    dorpus, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 8:01am

    As long as google fights for freedom versus dollars, I'll root for them. No pun intended.

    Do we know google really "fights for freedom", or are they in fact the most pro-authoritarian tech company in the world? Behind the scenes, could google have extensive cooperation with the FBI, NSA to create the world's most powerful snooping tool? What would prevent google from making people's intimate details searchable? Would we want google to have a cavalier free-market attitude, without regard for consequences?

     

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  14.  
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    Martin Desilets, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 9:19am

    I'd be willing to bet that within six months google will set up a fund-raising arm for political donations to candidates. While not the direction a lot of us would like to see them go... Google does need a little help in Congress these days as just about every new venture they come out with is met with serious public and governmental scrutiny.

    Marty
    Lehigh Valley Internet

     

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  15.  
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    Toots, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 11:05am

    Dorpus

    Dorpus why does thy tongue wag as the ass's tail switching flies? Do you also wear an alumminum hat on your head to keep the goverments brian waves out? Everytime I read your posts, conspiracy theories is all I see about large companies. Do you have anything else better to do?

     

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  16.  
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    Tyshaun, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 11:41am

    Stop picking on dorpus, completely...

    While I don't agree with all of his points, the one thing I do concur with Dorpus about is the fact that if google feels it doesn't need government officials on its side, it will eventually hit a brick wall in its ability to grow.

    Why, you may ask? Well, let's take a look at the recent tussle to reveal it's search results to the government or the upcoming fight with telcos/broadband providers to have web sites like google "pay-to-play" on their networks, or even the lawsuit a few weeks back about how googles ranking system was unfair and loss revenues for companies with bad rankings (I so wish I had the anal nature or time to link back to all of these articles from TechDirt).

    My point is a simple one, google is pushing into lots of new areas and is doing a good job of making itself the industry standards in many of its endeavors (gmail, google search, etc). With a big name, you get to be a big target, and it would be awful useful to have the ear of politicians to help them out with favorable legislation and intervention.

    Also, let's not forget that with the increased used and acceptance of the internet, the government just can't resist the urge to introduce legislation to regulate and taxate (is that a word?) internet use. If google doesn't have an affective lobbying team in place now, they may find themselves looking down the barrel of legislation that could be very crippling to their business in the future.

    Finally, I know we'd all love to think of Google as the great libertarian champion of the techno-geek, but reality is they are a company out to make a profit. The bigger they get, the more they'll need politicians to help. If you ever want a great example of how powerful a lobbying arm can be, look at the fact that there are hundreds of studies saying how cigarettes are more dangerous for you than some schedule 1 narcotics, yet cigarettes are a legal business making billions of dollars in no small part to their very powerful lobbying groups and PACS.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 1:33pm

    Dorpus why does thy tongue wag as the ass's tail switching flies? Do you also wear an alumminum hat on your head to keep the goverments brian waves out? Everytime I read your posts, conspiracy theories is all I see about large companies. Do you have anything else better to do?

    Funny that you mention the tinfoil hat -- my classmates just gave a presentation today on "risk factors for Leukemia", and mentioned electromagnetic waves. I embarrassed the hell out of them by debunking that notion -- they admitted it was just something they looked up on google.

    But if you want to talk about the tinfoil hat crowd, then there is the "Panawave" religious cult in Japan, which makes a show of meditating in public while wearing white clothes and antennas on their heads, to catch the "positive energy" from their gurus. And yeah, they mention harmful radio waves made by the government to poison people.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    David, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 1:01am

    Re: Bull Puckey

    Name names and give some facts.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Toots, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 5:29am

    Dorpus

    Just so you know... I do agree with Doupus on the fact that tinfoil dosen't cause cancer, what a silly myth. And I also know about the Panawave cult. In fact I have a friend who has taken pictures of these...."eclectic" chracters and sends them to me as postcards.

    I just think that before you bash a much loved company such as Google. You should think. I see one point in there favor, they did fight to keep from having to give the goverment user searches. So everytime I search for Dominatrix Anime, Nilgiri, and MUDS.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    safwqfwfwq, Apr 26th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Bull Puckey

     

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