Startup News Digest 11/2/18

With the 2018 midterm elections only four days away, plenty of policy debates affecting startups are on the line. Look out for a special election edition of the startup news digest next Thursday.

The Big Story: 

A U.K. tax on online services. The British government has announced a new tax on the biggest companies offering online services in the United Kingdom. The tax, 2 percent of U.K. revenues, will be levied on companies with global revenues of $640 million or more starting in April 2020.

The announcement was met with pushback in the U.S., where the companies likely to hit with the biggest taxes are based. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) issued a statement calling the tax “troubling” and warning that the U.S. might have to review its own tax law to level the playing field. "Singling out a key global industry dominated by American companies for taxation that is inconsistent with international norms is a blatant revenue grab,” he said.

Policy Roundup:

California net neutrality on hold. After passing a bill to reinstate strong net neutrality protections with the state, California has agreed to hold off on enforcing those protections until a federal case over net neutrality is resolved.

New exemptions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  The Copyright Office unveiled new DMCA Section 1201 exemptions, allowing Americans greater freedom to do things like fix smartphones and repair car software. The new rules should allow for greater access to resale markets for devices like iPhones, Alexas, and even tractors.

Opportunity for new investment. Venture capital firms are starting to explore investing in startups in economically depressed areas outside of San Francisco as a way to take advantage of the tax incentives provided by the creation of “Opportunity Zones.”

A Trump spin on Sprint-Tmo. T-Mobile and Sprint are talking about the future of 5G wireless networks and how the U.S. can beat China economically as the companies attempt to get their $26 billion merger through the Trump administration.

An earth-shaking use of AI. The New York Times looks into the ways that artificial intelligence is helping scientists analyze seismic data to predict earthquake activity.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Washington, D.C.: This week, Engine hosted a panel with General Assembly to celebrate Vets in Tech, featuring Sonya Dunn, founder and CEO of JEMH Enterprises (MilitaryHomeLife). Roughly 12 percent to 24 percent of military spouses want to work but are unemployed. This is one of the reasons military spouse entrepreneurship is on the rise. Sonya is excited by recent legislation better support military families and is hopeful lawmakers will continue to partner with military spouses to create for more entrepreneurial opportunities.