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The Google Lobby Defines Big Internet's Policy Agenda -- Part 6 Internet as Oz Series

Google not only dominates the web, the Google Lobby also dominates Big Internet's policy agenda in Washington in part via its new proxy, the Internet Association, the self-appointed "unified voice of the Internet economy."

Since market dominance attracts antitrust scrutiny, it necessitates lobbying dominance. The FTC's antitrust investigation prompted Google to hire twelve lobbying firms in a week and to rapidly organize them and legions of law and PR firms into one of the top corporate lobbying operations influencing Washington. Tellingly, a Wall Street Journal op-ed lionized "Google's $25 Million Bargain" lobby and Politico got behind-the-scenes to explain "How Google Beat the Feds."

Will Google Become SoftBank-Sprint's Silent Partner?

Like most analysts, I am not persuaded by the stated rationale and synergies SoftBank has put forth to justify its acquisition of Sprint. At bottom the deal is financial engineering: balance sheet and exchange rate arbitrage; and market timing. It appears to be a financial partnership, not the stated strategic partnership.

SoftBank hopes its shareholders will imagine that the 2013 and beyond U.S. experience of a maturing wireless smart-phone market and Sprint's late-iPhone-entrant role will somehow be analogous to SoftBank's iPhone first-mover experience in 2008 Japan. That's like asserting rock-climbing uphill is analogous with sliding downhill because they both involve hills.

Internet Astroturf 3.0 -- Internet as Oz Series Part 3

Pro-piracy interests have been organizing globally to head off and defeat future anti-piracy legislation (like SOPA/PIPA), IP treaties (ACTA) and property rights enforcement, all while claiming to represent "the Internet" and all its users, when they do not. They collectively represent pro-piracy special interests.

They hijack popular political buzz-words like "Internet Freedom" and "innovation," to distract people from their fringe anti-property views and to simulate broad mainstream political support.

("Astroturf" in a public policy context connotes artificial grassroots, simply proclaiming to be something one is not in order to gain broader political support.)

This analysis spotlights the political interests and strategy of global pro-piracy interests. It also answers several key questions:

  • What unites pro-piracy special interests?
  • Who are the top ten Internet astroturf 3.0 players?
  • If this is Internet astroturf 3.0, what was 1.0 and 2.0?
  • What's the main difference with Internet astroturf 3.0?
  • What are the main political techniques of Internet astroturf 3.0?
  • What are Internet astroturf 3.0's three grand deceptions?

Top False Claims of the New Internet Association -- Part 2 of Internet as Oz Series

Unfortunately, the new Internet Association launched yesterday making several false claims.

Claim: "The Internet Association, the nation's first trade association representing the interests of the Internet economy, America's leading Internet companies and their vast community of users…"

Truth: This "first" claim is unsupportable; several different Internet groups have had similar purposes long before this Internet Association: The Internet Society; The Internet Engineering Task Force; Net Coalition; SaveTheInternet.com; The Open Internet Coalition; The Internet Defense League; The Internet Freedom Coalition; The Internet Alliance; The Internet Marketing Association; The Internet Commerce Association and The Internet Infrastructure Coalition.

The New Internet Association's Back Story

Google, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook reportedly are launching a new Internet Association in mid-September to be "the unified voice of the Internet economy, representing the interests of America's leading Internet companies and their global community of users. The Internet Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free Internet."

What is the back story here? Why is it being formed? Why now? What unites these companies? What is the Internet Association's public policy agenda? What does its formation mean?

Why is the Internet Association being formed?

The main public policy catalyst was bipartisan anti-piracy legislation that was moving swiftly through Congress last year that Google, Amazon, eBay and Facebook all strenuously opposed and helped defeat with an unprecedented Internet blackout day in January.

Google's Picking a Third Antitrust Fight in Becoming a Domain Registrar

Is anyone paying attention to the profound antitrust implications of Google applying to ICANN to become the world's largest domain registrar for Internet Taxonomy 2.0 -- the next generation of Internet addressing and classification of information? Giving the world's dominant search engine -- that is already under antitrust investigation on four continents for favoring Google content over competitors' content -- the additional market power of controlling the allocation of new keyword domain-names which Google would then index for publishers, rank for users, and monetize for advertisers, is an unquestionable conflict of interest and a recipe for more Google monopolization.

ICANN's original Internet taxonomy 1.0 involved truly "generic" top level domains as like .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .mil, organized around institutional purposes and around geography to recognize sovereign nation authority like .US, .UK, .JP, .NZ, etc.

Mobile Payments Ignite New Competitive Free-for-All

Mobile technology advances are dramatically increasing the intensity of competition broadly online and offline. The technological convenience of using a smart phone, tablet etc. rather than a card or cash to pay for goods and services, wherever one may be, is igniting a competitive free-for-all.

  • That's because the technological shift to devices rather than cards creates a huge potential competitive opportunity for most everyone in the competitive ecosystem to potentially disintermediate other industries -- i.e. Wrest control of the customer relationship, customers' private information, interests and metadata, and also the bundling of marketing coupons and promotions, in markets with transactions in the trillions of dollars annually.

Activists and regulators who fear a potential new communications "opoly" lurking around every corner -- in need of preemptive government intervention to protect consumers from the convenience, savings and benefits of a highly-competitive marketplace -- need to take a breath, enjoy, and get out of the way of this amazing technological convergence and innovation over mobile payments.

Where's the Market for Online Privacy?

Why are market forces so weak in protecting users’ online privacy?

The main reason is that the online marketplace is economically structured around users being a commodity, data, to be aggregated and mined, not customers to be served and protected in a competitive marketplace. That’s because the overriding economic force that created the free and open commercial Internet – the predominant Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO value creation model – was and remains largely antithetical to protecting online privacy.

The Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO driven model is laser-focused on achieving Internet audience/user scale fastest in order to gain first-mover advantage and then rapid dominance of a new product or service segment. This predominant Internet economic model is predicated on a precious few investments achieving such rapid user scale that it: warrants a buy-out at an enormous premium multiple; enables fast and exceptionally-profitable liquidity (via the new secondary derivative market for private venture shares or employee options); or broad liquidity via a public IPO.

What is the essential critical element of achieving audience/user scale fastest? Free. No direct cost to the user fuels fastest, frictionless, viral adoption. This free economic model presupposes online advertising as an eventual monetization mechanism and shuns products and services directly paid for by the user because their inherent time-to-market is too slow and their upfront sunk cost of sales and customer service is too high for this predominant value creation model.

Twitter’s Realpolitik & The Sovereign-ization of the Internet

Reports that “Twitter Can Censor by Country” is a perfect example of how the world is changing the Internet. Change is a two-way street. Conventional wisdom that only assumes the Internet is changing the world risks being blind-sided by the Internet’s underappreciated exa-trend: how the world is changing the Internet.

See my Forbes Tech Capitalist post: "Twitter Realpolitik & the Sovereignization of the Internet" to learn about Twitter's new realpolitik and how sovereign powers will increasingly be asserting themselves vis a vis the Internet.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths