Startup News Digest: 3/17/17

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

New Immigration Ban Blocked. A federal judge in Hawaii issued a freeze on President Trump’s new immigration ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. Two weeks ago, President Trump signed the revised immigration ban, which narrowed the scope of the original ban to six countries and removed some of the most contentious aspects in an attempt to satisfy the courts. However, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson was not convinced, arguing that “a reasonable, objective observer...would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.” Almost 60 technology companies signed an amicus brief supporting the state of Hawaii in its suit against the federal government. The decision by Watson is probably not the final word, as the Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling and continue to fight for the ban over the coming months.

Senators Push for a Study on the Economic Impact of Broadband Access. This week, the chairs of the Senate Broadband Caucus, Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), introduced a bill requiring the Bureau of Economic Analysis to examine the impact of broadband deployment and adoption on local economies. “Broadband is a great equalizing force for creating jobs, leveling the playing field, and increasing opportunity,” said Senator Klobuchar in a statement. Capito and Klobuchar also added that the data from the report would give policymakers the necessary information to make educated investments. If passed, the bill would require the bureau, which conducts similar surveys in other industries, to address for the first time how broadband infrastructure affects the economic vitality of communities.

Tech Protests the Trump Administration on Pi Day. Hundreds of workers from a wide range of tech companies congregated in Palo Alto’s King Plaza on Wednesday to protest actions by the Trump Administration that they argued are antithetical to the “values that drive Silicon Valley.” The rally was organized to encourage company leaders to speak out against policies that had negatively impacted employees and customers. The event featured more than 20 speakers over the course of four hours who ranged from executives to janitorial and cafeteria staff at various companies. Tech workers have been especially vocal in the opposition movement against President Trump and pledged not aid in the creation of technology that would help to maintain an immigrant or Muslim database. The industry has also been supportive of nonprofits and advocacy organizations leading the resistance against many of the Administration’s most controversial policies.

SF Supervisor Gets Ball Rolling on Municipal Broadband. For years now, San Francisco has been considering what it would take to build out a municipal broadband network in the city. In a new development this week, San Francisco Board Supervisor Mark Farrell announced the formation of a “Blue Ribbon Panel” of academic experts to help develop a municipal broadband plan and answer questions around cost, privacy and security, operation specifics, and other key issues. The panel will be co-chaired by Farrell and Susan Crawford, a Harvard Law School Professor with extensive background in internet and communications policy (she co-led the FCC’s transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations, for one). The formation of this academic panel follows last month’s creation of a separate coalition of community and advocacy groups (of which Engine is a member) who are helping to inform the process. If San Francisco succeeds in building a high-speed, citywide municipal network, it will be the largest city in the country to do so. Live in SF and want to help shape the plans for this proposed network? Fill out this survey.

Startup Genome Publishes 2017 Ecosystem Report. On Tuesday, Startup Genome released its 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, a comprehensive examination of startup communities around the world. American cities held seven of the top 20 spots, with Silicon Valley and New York City landing at numbers one and two, respectively. However, other U.S. cities—namely Los Angeles and Chicago—saw large drops in their rankings as a result of lower global connectedness. As Startup Genome CEO JF Gauthier notes, the report is meant to help founders, investors, and other startup community leaders accelerate the growth of their ecosystems: “Civic leaders want to invest in innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation, but they often lack the know-how to quantify what development stage their local ecosystem is at and what tangible policies and activities to focus on in order to accelerate through the ecosystem lifecycle. This report offers a concrete starting point." Read the full report here.

This Week’s #StartupsEverywhere Profile: Sara Woldt and Scott Resnick in Madison, WI. This week, we talked with with Sara Woldt, the the Director of Business Development at gener8tor and co-founder of the OnRamp Conference Series, as well as Scott Resnick, the Resident-in-Entrepreneur for StartingBlock and co-founder of the startup Hardin Design & Development. They explained how Madison’s access to talent from the University of Wisconsin, as well as its supportive corporate community have contributed to the rise of robust startup ecosystem. Read the full profile here.

Join Us in DC on March 28th at Noon to discuss the findings of an upcoming paper on copyright filtering technologies from Engine's Evan Engstrom and Princeton University's Nick Feamster. We'll analyze how content filtering tools operate and how they impact the broader internet ecosystem. The discussion will also examine how various actions by policymakers to mitigate copyright infringement could affect startup productivity and creative production. Lunch from Taylor Gourmet will be provided. Learn more here.

This Week’s Long Read: Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?