By Charlie Warzel / @cwarzel
It’s still David versus Goliath, but maybe not for too long. The tech industry may be getting a seat at the table in the coming years…and believe me, they’re paying for it. According to government records recently released, Facebook is projected to have spent well over $1 million in lobbying dollars. Here is a short wrap from AllFacebook:
While the 2011 lobbying figures will be reported later this month, estimates put the last year’s lobbying budget at $1.35 million.
Papers filed with the U.S. government Friday reveal that Facebook spent $440,000 on lobbying in the last quarter of 2011, up 30 percent from the same period a year ago and a whopping 85 percent increase over the $38,117 spent in 2009.
It certainly would seem like tech companies are trying to buy their way into the conversation in DC—Google is reported to have spent $3.76 million in the last quarter of 2011 alone.
But don’t get too excited. Here’s a quote from a great TheVerge.com article on SOPA that explains the power of certain lobbies in Washington like, oh, say the MPAA:
Chris Dodd, who served as a senator for thirty years, is now the Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. As a senator, Dodd swore he’d never take money from lobbyists, but he now reaps a $1.5 million base salary and a $100 million lobbying budget. Lobbying is one art form the entertainment industry doesn’t mind investing heavily in: SOPA’s 32 co-sponsors received four times more in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry than from the tech industry.
Facebook is becoming an increasingly political tool for lawmakers and candidates alike. Companies like Socialitical are helping candidates chart and utilize Facebook advertisements to reach optimal audiences and demographics. Similar services are in place for companies like Twitter and Google as well.
Wait, maybe do get a little excited…maybe…
If the rumblings of a Facebook IPO this Spring are true and the projections aren’t totally off, Zuck and company could stand to raise $10 billion and have a staggering $100 billion valuation. Call us crazy, but we think that $100 billion wouldn’t just buy a seat at the table…it could buy the table itself, which it could then destroy and remake again…out of gold.
Then again, it remains unclear how the last week’s SOPA drama will change the way the industry works with Washington. Will they try to simply utilize the grassroots power of the internet? Or will they try to buy their influence like the other juggernauts and make their mark as bloodthirsty digital powerjunkies?
Times are a changing in Washington. It stands to be a slow burn, but this much is clear: we want a front row seat for this show.