Business Management

How will Trump affect tech lobbying in the US?

To Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and Big Banking, you can now add Big Tech.                                     

Paul Harris, Guardian




Despite what can only be described as a difficult first month with its new President, politics in the US will continue. New laws will be put into place, and companies will still spend millions of dollars trying to influence lawmakers to suit their needs.

The US Lobbying database has been updated to include Q4 of 2016, meaning we can now see how the spending for all of last year compares with previous years.

The top ten tech highest spenders on lobbying spent $75.2 million trying to curry favour in Washington. This figure is lower than last year’s $78.4 million, but still above the $64.47 million spent in 2014.

Google, as ever, was the biggest spender. The search giant spent $15.81 million lobbying Capitol Hill in 2016, down slightly for the second year in a row. As ever, the range of issues the company was interested in was wide: everything from advertising, privacy, and trade to immigration, security, renewables, spectrum, AI cars, and UAVs.

Amazon was the only other tech company to spend more than $10 million. The tech conglomerate’s $11 million was 20% higher than 2015 (which itself was more than a 40% jump on 2014), with focus on issues such as tax, drones, privacy, postal reform, immigration and more. 

Facebook reduced its spend by more than a million to just under $9 million, while Qualcomm’s Year-on-Year lobbying costs dropped by 30%. IBM and Intel also saw their lobbying expenditure decrease.

Outside of the ten biggest spenders, Salesforce and Uber both crossed the $1 million mark for the first time, with Uber more than doubling its spend from $570,000 to $1.36 million lobbying around issues such as the sharing economy, competition, and transport for veterans.

Dropbox’s first year saw it spend $600,000 in just three quarters, pushing on issues around diversity, privacy, and encryption. Alibaba’s first year on Capitol Hill saw it spend just over $1million on trade promotion, anti-counterfeit goods, and product safety. The incredibly well-funded mixed reality startup Magic Leap tripled its spending on educating politicians about the technology to $740,000.

Lobbying in a Trump Presidency

As well as spending less than last year, spending seemed to have declining Quarter-on-Quarter all year for many companies, possibly in anticipation of a new President. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) effectively dead in the water and President Trump’s new hardline stance on immigration and focus on local manufacturing, could we see a renewed effort to get tech’s message across in Washington, or a significant reduction in the face of an “America First” President who cares little for a globalised tech industry?



2016 Spend

2015 Spend

YoY % Change ['15 - '16]




$15.81 million

$16.7 million




$11.02 million

$9.1 million




$8.71 million

$8.5 million




$8.69 million

$9.8 million




$7.65 million

$7.5 million




$5.56 million

$7.9 million



Hewlett Packard Enterprise

$4.83 million

$4.28 million




$4.67 million

$4.5 million



Intel (Corp)

$4.22 million

$4.6 million




$4.04 million

$4.6 million



« InfoShot: History of the self-driving car


Could blockchain help fight the counterfeit goods racket? »
Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

  • twt
  • twt
  • twt
  • Mail

Recommended for You

International Women's Day: We've come a long way, but there's still an awfully long way to go

Charlotte Trueman takes a diverse look at today’s tech landscape.

Trump's trade war and the FANG bubble: Good news for Latin America?

Lewis Page gets down to business across global tech

20 Red-Hot, Pre-IPO companies to watch in 2019 B2B tech - Part 1

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?