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 http://engine.is/digest.
Change in Leadership at the Copyright Office. Last Friday, Maria Pallante was removed from her post as Register of the Copyright Office by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. While Pallante was reassigned as a senior advisor on digital strategy, she formally declined the new position, resigning from the Office on Monday. As the 12th Register, Pallante was both a vocal advocate of separating the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress and an early supporter of SOPA—two policies strongly opposed by the startup and tech communities, as well as public interest groups. The abrupt change-up has sent shockwaves through both the tech and entertainment industries, and many believe it is a foreshadowing of the larger copyright reform debate that is expected to occur early in the next Congress. We’re tracking.
Kauffman Looks at Startup Finance. The Kauffman Foundation released a report this week on emerging trends in entrepreneurial finance, and it includes some good news. First, the report found that women are playing more decision-making roles in entrepreneurial capital. Between 2004 and 2015, the percentage of female angel investors increased from 5 percent to 25 percent. And this is having an impact on financing of women-led startups: from 2011-2013, 15 percent of startups receiving venture capital investment had a woman on the executive team, compared to just 5 percent in the 1990s and 2000s. The report also found that crowdfunding is diversifying the geographic allocation of capital, with many new U.S. counties seeing their first crowdfunding projects in 2015. While VC skews heavily towards California (almost half of all VC investment went to Silicon Valley last year), just 27.3 percent of Title II and 32.7 percent of Title III crowdfunded dollars were made to California-owned companies in 2015. You can read the full report here.
AT&T Faces Opposition over Time Warner Merger. AT&T announced plans to buy Time Warner (not to be confused with Time Warner Cable) last Saturday, and the $85 billion deal is already facing skepticism, if not criticism, from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. AT&T is one of America’s largest wireless, pay-TV, and broadband providers, while Time Warner is one of the nation’s biggest media companies. While the two companies argue that the merger will encourage innovation and improve consumer experiences, the proposed deal has united some strange bedfellows in opposition. Both presidential nominee, Donald Trump, and vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, have expressed skepticism, citing consolidation and decreased competition as potentially problematic outcomes of the deal. Other groups have raised concerns that the merger could give the company unmatched advantages in a number of industries and violate net neutrality laws. It is still to be determined which agencies will have jurisdiction over the deal's review. AT&T initially suggested that it may not need the Federal Communications Commission’s approval, but that is looking less likely.
Google Fiber Pausing Expansion in 11 Cities. On Tuesday, Google Fiber announced that it is halting rollout on a number of projects across the U.S. as the company reevaluates its strategy. The company also laid off 9 percent of its workforce. While there wasn’t a specific reason given for the decision, The Washington Post explored a number of possibilities, including financial pressure, low demand, and pushback from big incumbents. Google Fiber has faced intense resistance from larger ISPs in a number of its “potential Fiber cities.” Just this week, Comcast joined AT&T in a lawsuit against Nashville over an ordinance that would help Google Fiber expand. Still, the company will continue its plans to expand in Nashville (as well as Louisville, where AT&T has filed a similar lawsuit), while halting operations in eleven cities, including Chicago, Dallas, LA, Phoenix, and San Francisco.
Join Us in DC on 11/15 for Vets in Tech Briefing. Engine is co-hosting a briefing next month with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the Diversifying Tech Caucus, and the Congressional Future Caucus on preparing veterans for careers in technology. The event will be held on November 15 in the Cannon House Office Building. It will explore the actions that the government and the private sector can take to advance opportunities for veterans looking to enter the tech sector, a topic that Engine has addressed previously. Space is limited—make sure to sign up early.