I am excited to announce today that Paul Geller has joined our team as Engine’s new Managing Director. Paul will focus on corporate outreach, and joins Engine as a startup veteran who spent the last few years building technology applications for fashion and retail brands in New York. He previously served on the Audio Board of the Consumer Technology Association and as a partner at Hangar.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2016
Rob Haralson for Engine Advocacy
Engine Advocacy Announces New Leadership
Evan Engstrom, Policy Director, to take on new role as Acting Executive Director
SAN FRANCISCO - January 14, 2016 - The Board of Directors of Engine, the policy advocacy group and research foundation focused on tech entrepreneurship, today announced that it has appointed Evan Engstrom as the organization’s new Acting Executive Director. Evan has served as Engine’s Policy Director since 2014. Julie Samuels, who is stepping down as the organization’s Executive Director, will remain as President of Engine’s Board of Directors and will be closely involved in the organization’s strategy and operation.
“Not only has Evan played a pivotal role in shaping Engine’s policies, he has also worked diligently to help grow the organization’s presence and has consistently demonstrated the leadership qualities necessary to lead Engine as the team continues to champion issues important to startups,” said board member Marvin Ammori. “Engine plays a critical role representing startups in policy debates, and we are excited to see the continued growth of the organization with Evan at the helm.”
Prior to joining Engine, Evan was an attorney at Farella Braun + Martel in San Francisco, focusing on copyright and other intellectual property litigation matters. At Farella, Evan litigated several high-profile Digital Millennium Copyright Act cases, defending websites and ISPs against claims for secondary copyright liability.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Since its inception, Engine Advocacy has played an important role in shaping the discussions around key policy issues affecting the startup community,” said Engstrom. “2016 will undoubtedly bring a continued focus on issues surrounding patent reform, copyright, taxes, data localization, privacy and encryption, and newer technologies such as drones, driverless cars and platforms that are advancing the sharing economy. Along with the entire Engine team, I look forward to engaging on these and other important issues to ensure this vibrant community continues to have a voice in Washington and beyond.”
About Engine Advocacy
Engine is a technology policy, research, and advocacy organization that bridges the gap between policymakers and startups, working with government and a community of high-technology, growth-oriented startups across the nation to support the development of entrepreneurship. Engine creates an environment where technological innovation and entrepreneurship thrive by providing knowledge about the startup economy and constructing smarter public policy. To that end, Engine conducts research, organizes events, and spearheads campaigns to educate elected officials, the entrepreneur community, and the general public on issues vital to fostering technological innovation. To learn more, visit http://engine.is.
I’m writing today because my day-to-day role with Engine is ending in late September, and I have a lot of people to thank. From the early days of SOPA/PIPA, through JOBS Act, through the release of our first economic reports, Startup Days on the Hill, Keep Us Here, Fix Patents, Net Neutrality and so much more, I'm proud that Engine has built lasting impact in our community and I’m confident that, going forward, Engine will continue to be a leader at the intersection of technology and policy and politics. And while I could not be more proud of helping shepherd that growth to this point, I also know we didn’t do it alone, and it is a testament to the hard work of this startup community across the U.S. that we, as a community, are better today and positioned positively for tomorrow and beyond.
If you have made a phone call, signed a petition, sent a tweet, advised privately on what’s important to you, met with a member of Congress, or gotten involved in the myriad other ways so many entrepreneurs have, I want to express my gratitude that Engine could be there in some small way to help turn those thoughts and actions into a national network for change for a community providing the backbone of America’s economic recovery. To our association and affiliate partners in these endeavors, it has been my highest privilege and distinct honor to fight these battles alongside you, and I look forward to doing so for many years to come.
And to my colleagues, who have taken a chance, have worked with us and helped this organization grow, I am particularly proud to be able to say we stood shoulder to shoulder, doing what we could in hopes of making our community and our country better.
While my day-to-day role is coming to a close, I’ll remain active as part of Engine’s advisory board, and look forward to continuing to grow this organization and support this community in that role. Now, more than ever, I’m confident in Engine’s continuing role in shaping this community’s further success, and can’t wait to see the results.
The story of startups isn’t just happening in the Bay Area or New York City. It’s happening all over the country, as we’ve learned through our growing “Startup Cities” initiative, our recent road trip with Steve Case highlighting the “Rise of the Rest,” the labor economic research we’ve done to highlight the growing impact young companies have on communities, our political work in Washington and around the country urging policymakers to support and create better conditions for startup growth.
At Engine, we’re committed to fighting from and for the startup community to grow opportunity and strengthen communities. And that’s why, for the second year running, we’re working with the Congressional Innovation Caucus and friends in our own community like 1776 and the National Venture Capital Association to come together and celebrate startups with Startup Day Across America. Startup Day is an opportunity for Members of Congress, their staff and other policymakers to meet with entrepreneurs, tour their businesses, and get a sense for how they are creating economic opportunity, right at home.
Last year’s Startup Day gave more than 100 members of Congress the opportunity to meet with startups in their home districts. This year, with events starting today, we’re hoping for even more participation from new places and new faces. We’ve got events on tap throughout the country, from Kansas City to Columbus, Brooklyn to Seattle and everywhere in between, with more being announced each day.
We’ll be pulling together highlights from these events throughout August both here and on our social channels. Make sure to follow #StartupDay on Twitter to watch startups and government coming together to learn from each other.
And, if you’re interested in hosting a Startup Day event in your hometown this August, let us know and we can connect you with your local Congressional office. (And if you call and do it on your own, let us know and post on #StartupDay!)
Last month, the Engine production team took a trip down South to experience for ourselves the vibrant local startup economy we’d been hearing about in Memphis, Tennessee. We had the opportunity to meet a number of local entrepreneurs, some based full-time in Memphis and some just in town for the summer, participating in an accelerator program at StartCo. Across the board, we found a group of extremely dedicated tech entrepreneurs, many working seven days a week, more than 12 hours a day, to ready their companies for launch -- and a community taking shape that is passionate about building a better future for the city.
Some founders were lifelong Memphians who had chosen to keep their companies there, aiming to bring jobs, vitality, and a new phase of entrepreneurship to their hometown. These founders spoke of Memphis’s rich business history and entrepreneurial spirit. St. Jude, FedEx, and Autozone are among the companies that call Memphis home, and many founders spoke about these companies with an excitement that seemed to inspire their own hard work and dedication. Within the community, we met logistics startups, saw innovation in the healthcare space, and heard about medical device accelerators in the area. These were companies obviously attracted to Memphis for the resources already built into the local economy.
We also found teams from all over the country who had come to reside in the center of downtown Memphis and take advantage of the startup ecosystem that has taken shape there within the last few years. Teams from places such as NYC and Silicon Valley had come to Memphis to focus on building their businesses, looking for a different pace and a less saturated market. They described their year-round homes as having a lot of noise, and they had come to Memphis for the summer to focus on building their product -- finding real benefit living in a place where they could find a little more calm. They were astounded by the abundance of resources at their disposal: talented mentors, investors, and other startup founders -- all ready and willing to help.
This is not to say that Memphis is lacking a noise of its own -- we were able to meet with entrepreneurs in a variety of backdrops -- from their offices, to blues clubs on Beale Street, to the tops of their tents at BBQ Fest alongside the Mississippi River. The StartCo accelerator uses Memphis in May, an international festival showcasing arts, food, and music, as a networking opportunity for its companies. As one entrepreneur put it, “What better way to build relationships than over beer and barbeque?” By the end of our visit, we had to agree. There was a liveliness and enthusiasm -- at the festival on the river, as well as in the office, that was contagious.
As with the barbeque, startup founders have taken notice, and taken advantage, of the Southern hospitality they have encountered in Memphis. A very common theme in the interviews we conducted was the sense of community, kindness, and the willingness of anyone and everyone to help out. We spoke with the founders of eDivv from NYC, who told us “the best thing about Memphis is everyone knows each other, and everyone is willing to help. They want to see Memphis succeed. It’s a small community within a big city.” Layla Tabatabaie of BarterSugar agrees: “Of all the meetings I’ve had with local residents, professors, and others in the area, they’re all willing to help and they’re all very kind. I think that is something that is sometimes harder to find in places like New York.”
As a Memphian for the vast majority of my life, it was no surprise to hear about the close-knit community as well as the kindness of complete strangers. What I was surprised to hear, though, was how these ingredients of a place I lived for 18 years are fueling a new phase of growth in the local economy. I left for San Francisco without any knowledge of a startup community in Memphis, and it was not until I spent a couple of years involved in the community here that I began to take notice of the activity in my own hometown. It was very exciting to return to Memphis and discover such a vibrant community there -- one so diverse and different than that of Silicon Valley, and one that had not existed in the Memphis I knew.
Whether a lifelong Memphian, or a founder just in town for the summer, everyone we met had a personal interest in boosting the local economy. They hoped to create jobs and bring growth to local businesses, with a heartfelt interest in improving the community they had become a part of. Though the concept of technology startups reviving the local economy may be a fairly new one for Memphis, the passion and dedication of Memphians to make Memphis a better place is not. When we asked locals to sum up Memphis in one word, one we heard quite often was “soul”. It’s easy to see how the history and soul of Memphis are finding their way into a new chapter.
Watch our Startup Cities, Memphis video here:
This is an incredibly important time for technology policy.
We're in the midst of what future generations of tech policy wonks will remember as the summer of net neutrality. But, it's not just policy nerds that recognize how important it is to preserve an open Internet. Citizens by the thousands have filed comments with the FCC—over a million comments in all—to weigh in on what is in large part a rather dry question of regulatory authority. Many of these folks have been moved to comment because they recognize that the economic, technological, and cultural advances of the past decade were possible because of the Internet’s freedom and openness, which allowed anyone with an idea and a little technical know-how to start a business with global reach.
While a positive outcome on net neutrality would go a long way to ensuring that future entrepreneurs remain free to innovate, we still have much work to do. In the coming years, we hope to see key changes to immigration policy, patent reform, copyright law, and other matters of great interest to the startup community. Being able to shape the direction of these issues is a thrilling prospect; it’s why I’m so excited to be joining Engine.
Engine is already one of the most respected voices on matters of tech policy from patent reform to access, and one of the only organizations addressing these issues from the perspective and the backyard of startups and entrepreneurs. As Engine’s new Policy Director, I’m looking forward to maintaining and expanding our focus, growing the policy team, and ensuring that when we weigh in on an issue, we are providing insights backed by concrete examples, data, and expertise. This is no simple task, but an important one.
Helping to craft policy today means both anticipating the future concerns of a sector that's moving faster than the law, and making sure that policymakers and the public understand the often complex technological issues involved. We must ensure that policy solutions are strong enough to provide the certainty necessary to encourage investment while remaining flexible enough to efficiently adapt to changing technologies. To do so, it is crucial that we maintain a dialogue with entrepreneurs and investors to keep apprised of where technology innovation is headed and where technology policy must adapt to meet new needs.
Engine is uniquely situated to lead on these important issues. As a policy shop tied to an advocacy organization with a research arm, and a community of over 500 startups, technologists, and investors, we are closely involved with the most innovative people and companies in the tech space today. We will continue to foster a connection between startups and government. Engine is ready to lead the conversation on tech policy, and I’m eager to be a part of this important effort.
Before this trip, I was already one of Nashville's biggest fans. I was lucky to go to school here and spend time in this amazing city. But what struck me today is how the things I love most about Nashville -- its welcoming attitude, its strong sense of community, and its appetite for arts and adventure -- have come together to build a vibrant, engaged, and diversified startup community. And, even more, how that community is helping to cement Nashville's position as one of the nation's most exciting places to be.
It's obvious that the close-knit and supportive community that exists here is driving its success. But it's more than just the startup community's success: it's the success of the whole city. This was true in the other places we visited this week -- but especially so in Nashville. One need look no further than the Trolley Barns, home to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the exciting epicenter of what's going on here (thanks in no small part to the community's biggest cheerleader, Michael Burcham). The Trolley Barns, 1930s-era buildings that, yes, did house they city's trollies, have been redeveloped as a home for startups, artists, and now restaurants and businesses. Just a few years ago, they existed in a part of the city devoid of commercial and residential activity. Now it's buzzing.
This was consistent with what we saw at Marathon Village and the BowTruss Building - formerly deserted and underused structures that have or are being renovated to house exciting new businesses, and are making new communities safe and successful. Just more proof that good startups are more than just good business, they're good community.
It's no surprise that Nashville, home for generations to some of the country's best artists, would also be home to some of its most exciting and disruptive startups. It has the support of civic leaders, like Burcham, and elected officials, like Gov. Haslam, who joined us today. And, like most successful communities, it has members who are engaged, helping their compatriots rise to the top, and encouraging them to plug back into the larger cities and communities in which they live.
Nashville, I always knew you had it in you.
Cincinnati is going through a renaissance in the traditional sense of the word. Leveraging longstanding expertise in brand development, and belief in the power of consumer products and local manufacturing, this accessible city is embracing its artistic roots and rebuilding neighborhoods.
With Proctor and Gamble headquartered in Cincinnati, the city has long been the capital of consumer branding. Now, P&G is deeply involved with the next generation of great consumer products via grants to startup incubator Centrifuse, and mentorship responsibilities for a host of other businesses. Between big businesses getting involved, and the world-class industrial design program at the University of Cincinnati, this truly American city is poised to take full part in the next wave of economic growth through serious innovation.
We started the day in the old brewery district visiting Roadtrippers - one of a few great success stories here. Having grown from 20 people to 140, the company (founded by an Englishman on a green card!) now occupies an entire building. But right down the road, there are still boarded-up homes and old warehouses -- fertile ground for community art projects, but also room for improvement!
Next we moved on to the infamous Over-the-Rhine district to visit The Brandery -- a successful incubator focused on -- you guessed it -- building great brands! As the story goes, the first time the Brandery founders came to tour the space, they took a bullet in their window. Here in Cincinnati, like Pittsburgh, deprived and dangerous neighborhoods are being reclaimed for widespread benefit. Jobs are being created, community services and social areas are being built, and the area is becoming more populated.
People (like Roadtrippers founder) moved to Cincinnati specifically to join the Brandery. In fact, half of the room at the Brandery fireside was made up of Cincinnati transplants. In addition to new faces, more people are staying who might have left a few years ago, and more people are moving back to be a part of what’s going on. All of this is just another testament to the power of entrepreneurship to revitalize the landscapes of our cities and bring jobs back to the rest of the country.
Much like Detroit, Pittsburgh is an historic industrial city. And like Detroit again, when American manufacturing went into decline, so did the steel city. But Pittsburgh also has a long history as a center of advanced learning; with over fifty major university research departments in the city, focusing on topics from Information Technology to Life Sciences, Robotics, and Physics, the steel city’s new economy is being powered by academic research, and advanced manufacturing.
Despite these assets that prepare this city to be a leader in the next wave of technological innovation, Pittsburgh’s humility makes its people charming but can be one of its economy’s worst enemies. The story of what’s happening here is just not getting out.
Luckily, some success speaks for itself. Carnegie Mellon University spins out the most businesses per research dollar spent than any other university in the country; thirty companies have been started by faculty and students this year alone. Alongside the University of Pittsburgh, and others, the wealth of knowledge here -- seasoned academics, professionals, and young graduates -- provides the expertise to support the youth startup revolution spreading across the country. Pittsburgh is wisely using what already makes it strong.
At the working spaces we visited, and the pitch competition hosted by AlphaLab, we saw well-developed companies, many of which were involved in making and manufacturing tangible things. Pittsburgh’s tech scene is not about software. Positioning itself apart from Silicon Valley, and not as an imitator, has been Pittsburgh’s strength.
There’s also a human story here. In the midst of their rising success, community members are working hard to make sure that the city’s growth benefits everyone in Pittsburgh.
We met Urban Innovation21, an unparalleled public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurial growth, while also connecting that growth to underserved communities. It’s exciting and inspiring to see the innovation economy being used to revitalize deprived and underrepresented constituencies.
We also visited StartUptown, an incubator space that is helping Uptown grow from an historically disadvantaged neighborhood to an area known for its community and entrepreneurial culture. By thinking about how growth affects the broader community, and actually using the new economy to make the city better, StartUptown is a crucial piece of Pittsburgh’s future.
If Pittsburgh can tell the story of what’s being built here, it can only help accelerate their growth. And if Pittsburgh can tell the story of how they are using their talents to make their city better for everyone, they might just be able to redefine people’s perceptions of what “tech” means, and what it’s capable of doing.
This week we’re traveling with Steve Case on the Rise of the Rest road trip to celebrate entrepreneurship, in all its forms, across America. Every day we’ll post dispatches from the cities we’ve seen. Stay tuned for updates from Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Nashville.
Almost a century ago, Detroit was home to the transportation revolution and pioneering entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, but over time the city lost its way. Now this famous city is coming back with a new revolution focused on reimagining the city as the best version of itself: better infrastructure, stronger businesses and tighter communities. This story is one of regeneration, renewal, and rebirth.
We spent the morning touring spaces filled with great talent from Michigan’s universities (and across the country), and bursting with great passion for rebuilding this city. From the M@dison Building to Quicken Loans, DIME (Detroit Institute of Music Education), Detroit Labs and Bizdom, it’s clear how much energy Detroit has for its next incarnation. And then at Shinola -- a local company that produces watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals -- we saw that the manufacturing heritage that once made Detroit is again making it a world leader.
As recently as 60 years ago, Detroit was one of the top high-growth cities in the nation. Now it has an incredible opportunity to take its heritage, to inspire and retain the skilled individuals that are coming out of Michigan’s universities (Michigan has more engineers per capita than any other state in the nation), and to play leapfrog.
Ironically, one of Detroit’s great strengths is that everyone had given up on it; the stories have been so bad that it’s galvanized America’s interest. The fact that it got so bad here has created a platform for an unusual level of excitement and a boundless sense of possibility.
Had the city not lost 60 percent of its population and gone bankrupt, if Detroit did not have the chance to start again from the beginning, and rebuild from the ground-up, we might have seen a very different city today. Cities like Austin have already been through this sort of rebirth; we know that this looks like.
Today Detroit looks like a very different place. We met with Gov. Dan Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan, and civic leaders like Dan Gilbert. We toured co-working spaces and met investors and startups that are growing quickly – bringing jobs and excitement to Detroit. People are staying in the area, and moving back to Detroit from San Francisco and New York City to be a part of what’s happening here. The energy is palpable, and the dynamics of Detroit’s story are changing.
Detroit has a long history of innovation, and today we saw a vibrant community working hard to bring that tradition back to life. What remains is the task of bringing the automotive industry back into the fold. The industrial giants have the experience to help build a new Detroit, and this new Detroit has the power to breathe new life into these incumbent industries.
The future is bright in Motor City. Good morning Detroit!
We were excited to learn that this week the President traveled to Pittsburgh to celebrate innovation with a visit to TechShop -- the firm that helps entrepreneurs and inventors build low-cost prototypes of their creations. Next week, we too will be in Pittsburgh and at TechShop as part of the Rise of the Rest road trip with Steve Case.
Signalling his support for more policies that encourage entrepreneurship, the President announced three executive actions designed to support advanced manufacturing and innovation:
- $5 billion worth of advanced equipment in federal R&D facilities will be made available to innovators and startups to develop new technologies and launch new inventions. For example, entrepreneurs may be able to access NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing to produce the high-strength, defect-free joints required for cutting-edge aeronautics, and DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for collaborative projects in additive manufacturing, composites and carbon fiber, and other leading clean energy technologies.
- Five Federal agencies will invest more than $150 million in research to support the Materials Genome Initiative, increasing the Administration’s investment in the manufacturing of game-changing advanced materials. The aim of the The Materials Genome Initiative is to cut in half the time it takes to develop novel materials that can fuel advanced manufacturing and bolster the 21st century American economy.
- In response to the President’s call to action, more than 90 Mayors and local leaders have committed to the ‘Mayors Maker Challenge’. The promise is to expand access to physical locations and new manufacturing and prototyping equipment, support manufacturing entrepreneurship, and inspire young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering.
Just as the President and leaders across the country are recognizing “makers”, and the importance of supporting entrepreneurship, we can’t wait to celebrate what’s being built right here in America. Check out our infographic here!
Skip Newberry, President of the Technology Association of Oregon, co-authored this post.
When asked for a general perception of what the startup community looks like, all too often people will volunteer information about bespectacled youths wandering around Silicon Valley with bundles of money, wearing ironic t-shirts, sipping single-origin coffee, and creating apps for you to while away time on your commute. It is, in a sense, the same type of reaction to the Portlandia phenomenon. Neither of these characterizations is entirely false–to be fair there is a lot of bird-related art throughout the Rose City–but there is a truth behind both perceptions: a new birth of economic growth and prosperity that cuts across traditional socio-economic lines that can be an enormous force for good in our communities.
Earlier this year, Engine teamed up with the Technology Association of Oregon to tell the story of Portland’s startup community. It’s the first part of the Startup Cities series that will profile more underrepresented communities around the country where startups are taking root and presenting new avenues for cities to capitalize on the innovation of its citizens to benefit the community as a the whole.
Portland was chosen as the pilot first because the city’s long history of entrepreneurship has translated very quickly into a supportive, thriving and prosperous startup community. The technology industry in the Portland Metro Area was the fastest growing in the country during the past ten years. In this same time period, the Portland Metro Area climbed to 9th in the country for startup density, and is attracting increasing levels of talent from Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Denver. Large companies such as ebay, Salesforce.com, Walmart Labs, SquareSpace, and Airbnb are also taking notice and expanding into the area.
And we know from Engine’s research that community benefits extend beyond the high wage tech jobs created. For every person a technology startup hires, 4.3 additional jobs are created in the local non-tradable sector. That’s everything from bakers to bankers, plumbers, and lawyers. Within Portland’s thriving startup community, these effects are visible and powerful.
But even more importantly, the community in Portland knows that to succeed everyone must work together. Serial entrepreneurs are becoming angel investors, helping entrepreneurs new to the scene jump in with both feet and grow products into businesses, and creating staying power that will help Portland succeed for years to come.
While no two entrepreneurial communities are alike, and replication of success stories can be a fool’s errand, the lessons of togetherness and support are ones on which Portland can lead, ones they can export, and in doing so become a leading community.
And Portland is just the first stop. It’s important that we start to look at the technology industry everywhere it exists to build a fuller picture of the community that is fast becoming the American electorate at large.
For four days in June, we’ll be joining Steve Case, Revolution, and Up Global to celebrate entrepreneurship across the country, showcasing startups and entrepreneurs in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville.
From our recent research, we know that the growth in high-tech startups is not simply a “tech center” phenomenon. In fact, high-tech startups are being founded across the country, fueling local and national economic growth.
“I have always believed in the power of entrepreneurship to change the world,” said Steve Case. “This four-day journey will shine a spotlight America’s best and brightest, wherever they reside, to demonstrate that great ideas and great companies can come from anywhere.”
“We’re so excited to hit the road and report back on a story that demands more attention: some of the most exciting things happening in tech are happening far from San Francisco and New York City,” said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of Engine. “And it’s these young startups -- growing in these cities across the country -- that will create the jobs the next generation relies on.”
We will be joined along the way by nationally recognized entrepreneurs and civic leaders to celebrate the progress of the startup economy. Steve will also personally invest in each city’s startup community by hosting a series of pitch competitions - one winner in each city will earn a $100,000 investment in their company.
Each stop along the route will feature:
- Visits to local startups, accelerators and incubators
- Fireside chats featuring Steve Case and other entrepreneurial luminaries in a candid conversation about the local startup ecosystem
- Local startups pitching a panel of all-star judges, with $100K investment at stake
- Celebration and networking for local entrepreneurs
We hope to see you on the road!
More information on the Rise of the Rest road tour, including times and locations for specific events in each city, is available at www.riseoftherest.com and by following #riseofrest on Twitter and Instagram.
In response to this morning's FCC hearing on preserving an open Internet, we offer the following statement:
We are again encouraged by Chairman Wheeler’s commitment to protecting the open and free exchange of information on the Internet, and to inviting comment on various paths to preserve an open Internet. We agree that network neutrality is essential for consumers, startups, and economic growth, and that “squeezing out smaller voices [and new ideas] is unacceptable”.
While we can echo the Chairman’s sentiments, he has not explained how the authority of Section 706 will achieve the lofty goals as outlined. Based on the Verizon v FCC decision, we believe that the Chairman’s proposal to rely on the Commission’s secondary authority cannot lead to rules that can both be upheld in Court and preserve the open Internet to give startups the certainty they need.
We look forward to discussing specific approaches to reaching the goal of an open Internet, and will continue to advise that Title II reclassification is the only route to preventing paid prioritization and an Internet of haves and have-nots.
Thanks to our team of superstar delegates, Startup Day on the Hill 2014 was a rousing success. Members of Congress and their staffs are increasingly involved with the startup community and the technologies and services we’re building; they are starting to understand that they must support what we do for the good of the whole economy.
Our Women in Technology event on Tuesday night was attended by more than 100 people and DC luminaries, including visits from startup-friendly members of Congress including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who gave the evening’s inspirational remarks.
The packed celebration was also an opportunity for us to introduce Engine’s new Executive Director, Julie Samuels, who is committed to the issue of women in technology and has laid plans to bring on a senior fellow to advise on the subject. By focusing on the under-representation of women as engineers, founders, and investors, we hope to create better policies to give women an equal opportunity.
Startup Day itself was packed with incredible experiences, vibrant conversations, and bold actions – all aimed at providing members of Congress more tools and resources to support startup communities and create better public policy.
In having these conversations, we already succeeded in bringing the startup community closer to policymaking in Washington -- at least for a day. But we also hope to have had an impact as the Senate continues to work towards patent troll reform, as the House works on immigration reform, and as Congress begins to tackle the numerous issues we face as a community.
Stay tuned, also, for new installments to our Startups Speak series -- putting a human face on the policy issues we face.
We’re thankful to CEA for their generous support, and we look forward to continuing our work together. We also thank WeWork for hosting our team at their beautiful Wonder Bread Factory, Franklin Square Group and S-3 for their assistance in getting our events together, and to our Congressional co-hosts for their assistance in the coordination of the event.
We can’t wait for Startup Day 2015!
I’m really excited to launch Engine’s Senior Fellows Program. Starting with Peter Pappas as our Senior Advisor on intellectual property and other policy issues, we plan to expand the program with fellows on net neutrality, women in tech, and other relevant areas that affect the startup community.
Peter, who made his first public appearance with us at a patent reform panel in San Francisco, and then joined us in DC for Startup Day on the Hill, is the former chief of staff at the USPTO where he worked with Director Kappos and the White House on policy initiatives. In this position, Peter was intimately involved in the formulation, and passage, of the 2011 America Invents Act. And since then, he has been working with the USPTO and the White House on additional patent reform legislation that targets patent litigation abuse and fills in the gaps that were not addressed by the AIA.
Having advisors is essential for us as we continue to conduct existing policy work, and enter into new debates. Peter’s experience and expertise are particularly crucial right now, as we push the Senate to pass comprehensive patent reform.
Speaking of which, here is Peter's first op-ed for us on why we need to restore a patent system that support true innovation.
Watch Peter introduce himself and tell us why he’s excited to be here!
This morning, we -- and 5600 other people -- sent a letter to the Senate urging real patent reform. Those people include 1507 entrepreneurs, 758 investors, and 1006 inventors -- at least 150 of whom own their own patents. This should serve as yet another reminder of the critical mass of job-creating entrepreneurs and businesses that support patent reform; the Senate should take note and act swiftly.
This letter is in addition to a letter the Senate Judiciary Committee received from U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and 15 others late last week. Signed by a broad coalition of Democratic and Republican senators, the letter cites widespread support across the county and in Congress for reforming the U.S. patent system to protect America's most innovative industries, as well as Main Street businesses and entrepreneurs across the nation, from abusive lawsuits and costly settlements.
As the Senate receives this letter, over 100 people will meet at Stripe’s office space tonight to talk about patent reform, listen to a panel of experts -- including former USPTO Chief of Staff and Engine Fellow Peter Pappas -- and formulate a plan of action for passing meaningful reform this year.
With the majority of patent troll targets making under $10 million in revenue, this is an issue so important to our community, and the economy as a whole, that we cannot afford to wait for action. When small businesses face dubious multimillion dollar lawsuits, our innovation economy suffers.
With the Senate poised to take up this debate in earnest early next month, we are entering the final, and most important, stretch of this battle. And we need you more than ever.
If you signed today’s letter and want to do more, or if you're just joining this coalition, stay tuned for the launch of fixpatents.org, a site that will help you call your Senators directly. A number of Senators and Representatives in Austin last week confirmed that making a phone call is the single most influential action you can take to encourage action in return, so we hope you’ll join us.
As we celebrate today’s actions, we also know there is still a lot more to do. Don’t stop here. Help us see this through.
The Engine team and board are excited to announce that Julie Samuels has agreed to join as our first Executive Director, and has been appointed President of Engine Advocacy and Engine Foundation.
Julie has served on the Foundation board since its formation in 2012, where she has been an invaluable resource for the organization. Now we’re delighted to have convinced her to join us full-time.
Julie’s appointment is a major turning point for us. Today, Engine is a still-growing nonprofit organization (two, technically) and our staff produces economic reports, and provides policy guidance, direct advocacy, and member services to hundreds of startups. Engine’s staff and volunteers have done an amazing job of self-directing and building the organization you see today, with leadership coming from within the team, and from board members.
Julie’s job is now to take the organization through its next growth phase. She has committed to growing the team (we’re hiring!), launching a new policy fellowship program, building up a more substantial and diverse funding base, and exploring the social issues around technology in addition to Engine’s core set of focus areas. 2014 is going to be a big year.
And for those who don’t know Julie, she’s joining us from the Electronic Frontier Foundation where she was a Senior Staff Attorney, and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents (we swear). She’s also on a number of advisory boards, is a regular speaker at a host of prestigious places (CES, Harvard, Princeton - you get the idea), and Julie started her career as an entertainment and IP attorney. But Julie’s no ordinary lawyer. She was an advocate and journalist before law school at Vanderbilt, and interned at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications -- where the modern internet browser was born -- while still an undergraduate at the University of Illinois.
Since then, Julie has argued in the Megaupload case, has written a number of briefs for our nation’s highest courts, launched TrollingEffects.org and advised countless startups. Not to mention the hard work of maintaining a Twitter account in her dog’s name! (You can follow Julie on Twitter here.)
We believe there’s nobody better to represent startup entrepreneurs around the country, and make sure we do everything we can to foster economic growth, innovation, and achievement -- in the United States and abroad.
If you’re at SXSW this week and next, please stop by any of our many events, including this immigration reform event with many of our tech partners, and give her a warm welcome.
You can also find the press release about Julie’s appointment here.
This year, Engine is hitting the road to tell the stories of entrepreneurial communities in cities and towns all across America. With a video series, produced by our own Daniel Schwartzbaum, we’ll shine a light on founders and entrepreneurs, asking them why they do what they do, and what it is about their community that gives them the support they need.
We chose Portland for a our pilot project -- just a short flight from our home here in San Francisco, but light years away in terms of community building. What we found was a collaborative atmosphere where founders, capital investors, city and state government, and other local organizations came together to build, with intention and thoughtfulness, a community that feeds on the boundless energy of its proponents.
With the generous support of the Technology Association of Oregon, and their President, Skip Newberry, we have started to put together the film on what we found.
Here is just a taste: the preview trailer we produced for TAO’s office opening party last week. The full episode will be out soon. During the rest of this year, we want to discover more tech cities around the country -- let us know if you and your community want to be involved. We can't wait to hear your story.