Startup News Digest 11/17/17

Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. To receive this weekly digest in your inbox, sign up at

The Big Story: Tax bill sheds bad stock options provision. After a massive backlash from 600 startups, innovators, and investors, the Senate has dropped from its sweeping tax reform proposal a measure that would have taxed employees’ stock options when they’re vested instead of when they’re exercised. That would have forced employees to pay a tax on an asset before they actually get any income from it and hurt startups ability to offer competitive compensation in the form of stock options.

But the Senate Finance Committee released updated text of the bill on Wednesday that no longer includes that harmful provision. And it includes a provision that helps startup employees: the Empowering Employees Through Stock Options Act, which promotes broad-based employee ownership by giving employees new flexibility in handling their tax obligations for up to seven years after exercising their stock options.


What’s Happening in Policy:

December decision on net neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is going to have the agency vote in December on his plan to roll back the 2015 net neutrality rules, according to Bloomberg. Hundreds of startups that have spoken out in favor of strong open Internet rules, and World Wide Web founder Tim Berners Lee defended the rules in an op-ed this week.

Defending our patent system. The current flexibility and common-sense balance in the U.S. patent system is boosting the startup economy, not hurting it, Engine’s Rachel wrote in an op-ed in Morning Consult.

Transparency into federal hacking. The White House released some much-anticipated information about its Vulnerabilities Equities Process, the interagency process that the federal government uses to determine whether it should tell companies about their products’ vulnerabilities it finds and uses.

Tech weighs in as NAFTA talks start again. Engine joined seven other tech groups in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, raising concerns that the U.S. may be diverging from the current “calibrated and balanced” copyright framework as it seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

New bill to extend JOBS Act provisions. Sens. Thom Tillis and Gary Peterson have introduced a Senate companion to the Fostering Innovation Act, which passed the House last year and would extend some exemptions from financial requirements for five years.

Companies push for DACA fix. Microsoft, IBM and others took to the Hill this week to push Congress to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries, individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and were protected under an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration announced it was scrapping earlier this year.

Startup Roundup:

  • Sioux Falls startups. Silicon Prairie News dives into the Sioux Falls startup scene, including the Sioux Falls Startup Weekend, which had over 40 participants.

  • VR for good. Vantage Point is a virtual reality company aimed at revolutionizing sexual assault and harassment training.

  • ACS meets AI. The American Cancer Society is partnering with Belong: Beating Cancer Together, a platform that connects cancer patients and uses AI and data to give patients individualized information and assistance.