Never a fan of net neutrality, AT&T has upped the ante on controversial zero-rating programs, announcing a new program this week that will allow subscribers to stream video from DirectTV (a company AT&T owns) without consuming data under the company’s data caps. This means that AT&T is giving preferential treatment to its own data and putting all other video providers at a clear competitive disadvantage. While other programs like T-Mobile’s BingeOn service have tried to avoid the most egregious net neutrality violations by allowing any video service to participate in the zero-rating program without payment, AT&T’s program seems to directly implicate the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order.
Today, the House of Representatives passed a package of bills that will improve the capital access landscape for innovators across the country. The package included two pieces of legislation championed by Engine: the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act (H.R.4850) and the Private Placement Improvement Act of 2016 (H.R.4852). With the approval of these two bills, the House has now passed four of Engine’s 2016 legislative priorities related to capital access.
Engine is looking for startups, entrepreneurs, and the organizations that support them to sign our letter telling Congress that startups care about broadband competition. Startups, businesses, and other institutions often need significantly more internet bandwidth than consumers use at home, so they rely on what are known as “business data services” (BDS) to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity. Unfortunately, the BDS market is dominated by a few broadband gatekeepers that distort the market and jack up prices for startups and other customers. But that could change soon: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in the process of a rulemaking that will introduce competition and lower prices in the BDS market.
Back in May, regulation crowdfunding went into effect, allowing anyone to invest in a startup through an online platform for the first time ever. But, as Engine has previously explained, we’re skeptical about the extent to which this market will truly take off given the current regulatory framework. We welcomed the House’s passage of Rep. Patrick McHenry’s Fix Crowdfunding Act (H.R. 4855) last month, which makes a couple of fixes from the startup community’s wish list like permitting special purpose vehicles. But the bill was heavily amended before passage, and as Evan argues in Bloomberg this week, it is missing a number of the startup community’s desired changes.
As the Republican National Convention kicked off this week, GOP leaders released the final draft of their party platform. The platform included a commitment to several issues important to the tech industry, such as expanding broadband access and pushing back against over-regulation, as well as a nod to startups and small businesses by supporting an expansion of tax deductions for startup and small business expenses. The GOP also reaffirmed their commitment to digital privacy rights and called for a resolution to the ongoing encryption debate, though they declined to take a firm stand on the issue. Unfortunately, the party reiterated their ardent opposition to net neutrality, and language in the platform on high-skilled immigration reform and LGBT issues will likely disappoint the tech community.
As the Republican National Convention kicked off this Monday, the GOP also released the final draft of their party’s platform. The platform, which was written with input from the party’s base sourced via www.platform.gop, included generous mentions of issues important to the startup community.
Startups across the U.S. use stock options to attract and incentivize top talent. But as we’ve written before, the current tax code makes it difficult for employees to exercise those options requiring employees to pay taxes on their options even when there’s no public market to sell them to cover the tax burden. On Tuesday, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) introduced a bill aimed at remedying this.
Over 40 technology startups from across the country signed Engine's letter to Congress explaining why encryption is essential to their business operations and their users’ digital security and trust. “Encryption is at the heart of many of our products and services. Without the security and confidence that encryption provides, it would be difficult or impossible for us to find customers and investors, and ultimately, grow our businesses...
As the dust settles from last week’s stunning Brexit vote, the broader tech community, which staunchly supported remaining a part of the European Union (EU), is taking stock of the potential repercussions of the decision. While the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU still have to negotiate the exact terms of the deal (assuming the British can cobble together a new government committed to the Brexit), uncertainty surrounds several key issues important to the tech community.
As the world reacts to the news of UK voters’ historic decision to leave the European Union, many are wondering what this means for the tech industry, which widely favored remaining in the EU. While the full consequences of the UK’s departure will take years to play out, the interim period could be one of great uncertainty for British and European tech firms, as well as for those U.S. companies with employees and customers across the pond.
Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. In the wake of the Apple-FBI dispute, lawmakers have made encryption a top policy priority. Several Congressional working groups have now been established to determine the best approach to address regulation of encryption technologies, but very little of the public debate focuses on the detrimental impact any new rules could have on startups.
On May 16, 2016, regulation crowdfunding will go into effect, meaning for the first time ever,anyone can invest in a startup through an online platform. This is big. Until Congress passed the JOBS Act in 2012, buying an equity stake in a company required being fairly wealthy or having a pre-existing relationship with the entrepreneurs raising capital. But the Internet has dramatically changed the way entrepreneurs share their ideas and connect with potential investors. With the JOBS Act, the law finally caught up as well – or it almost did.
Engine applauds the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. The bill, which was approved by a wide margin of 325-89, would clarify regulatory ambiguities around general solicitation, making it easier for startups to publicly showcase their ideas without unintentionally running afoul of securities laws.
The pitch competition has practically become a standard rite of passage for startups, especially early-stage firms seeking investment. Yet, many pitch events may violate decades-old securities law. Congress is now considering legislation to fix this: The HALOS Act. Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), this legislation clarifies the rules around pitch competitions, making it easier for startups to pitch their business plans and find potential investors.
Among the many challenges entrepreneurs face in launching and scaling a startup, recruiting talented employees is one of the most difficult. There’s already a shortage of tech workers in this country (there are currently more than 600,000 open computing jobs nationwide, and last year, only 43,000 students graduated with computer science degrees), and it’s even more dire for startups that must compete with some of the most successful companies in the world to recruit these employees.
April 5, 2016 marked the four year anniversary of the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. While the statute is still relatively young, we have already begun to see the positive impacts that its provisions have had on startups’ ability to raise capital. It has made going public easier and created new pathways for startups to raise money through Regulation A+ and general solicitation under Regulation D. And with regulation crowdfunding set to finally go live in May, we are hopeful that a vibrant non-accredited investor crowdfunding market will emerge in the near future.