Dot-coms look to Beltway, seek to increase influence

WASHINGTON, DC: Internet companies often talk about reinventing the rules of business to succeed in today’s so-called ’New Economy.’ But when it comes to preparing for battle with government regulators and legislators over the multibillion-dollar e-commerce industry, even the dot-coms have learned that they must play by some of the old rules - and that means setting up shop on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON, DC: Internet companies often talk about reinventing the rules of business to succeed in today’s so-called ’New Economy.’ But when it comes to preparing for battle with government regulators and legislators over the multibillion-dollar e-commerce industry, even the dot-coms have learned that they must play by some of the old rules - and that means setting up shop on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON, DC: Internet companies often talk about reinventing the

rules of business to succeed in today’s so-called ’New Economy.’ But

when it comes to preparing for battle with government regulators and

legislators over the multibillion-dollar e-commerce industry, even the

dot-coms have learned that they must play by some of the old rules - and

that means setting up shop on Capitol Hill.



A wave of Internet companies - including eBay, Amazon.com, DoubleClick

and Excite@Home - have hired government relations/public policy experts

and either set up shop or made plans to increase their presence in

Washington.



’It’s not as hard to get an audience with a policy maker as it used to

be,’ said Excite@Home director of public policy and government affairs

Jon Englund, who joined the company late last year from the Information

Technology Association of America.



Earlier this month, eBay tapped Motion Picture Association technology VP

Tod Cohen for a newly created DC-based post as public policy

specialist.



’We came to the decision that it would be desirable to have someone on

the ground in DC on a daily basis,’ explained senior communications

director Kevin Pursglove.



Amazon.com actually beat eBay to the hiring punch with the February 1

addition of Paul Misener as VP of global public policy, while

DoubleClick hired away New York senator Charles Schumer’s chief of

staff, Josh Isay, to serve as director of public policy and government

affairs.



Public Affairs Council president Doug Pinkham said that membership

inquiries from Internet companies are on the rise. ’Even the dot-com

companies are starting to call and attend meetings,’ he noted, adding

that there are two main reasons behind the increased appreciation for

public affairs and government relations within the hi-tech sector:

’Sometimes just your sheer size means that you become a target (for

government watchdogs).



Also, without watching what people on Capitol Hill are doing, these

companies could be regulated right out of business.’



While the Center for Responsive Politics has reported that political

giving by Internet companies is growing faster than contributions from

any other sector, DC activities have expanded beyond campaign

contributions to become more proactive.



’These companies are realizing how important it is to protect and

preserve their image and reputation in Washington on a daily basis,’

said Englund.



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