Business Management

US tech firms lobbying spend: Q1 2016

This week saw the US’ lobbying disclosure database update to include figures for Q1 of this year, and it seems the technology industry as a whole has decreased its efforts to influence policy makers.

The 10 biggest technology companies spent $17.71 million in trying to lobby Capitol Hill in Q1 of this year. That figure is actually down slightly compared to Q1 of last year, but the issues covered remain largely the same: Cybersecurity, immigration, automobiles, data privacy, advertising, patents, trade agreements, and more.

Google [presumably on behalf of parent company Alphabet] was again the biggest spender, the search giant splashed out $3.8 million in Q1 lobbying over a range of subjects including privacy, IP, trade agreements, immigrations, cybersecurity, renewable energy, spectrum, cars, drones and education. That figure was down compared to Q1 of last year, although roughly in line with the last few quarters.

Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft were some of the few companies to see increased lobbying spend; $2.78 million, $2.65 million, and $2.02 million respectively. Qualcomm, Apple, IBM, Accenture, Dell, Cisco, eBay, and Samsung, all saw their Q1 activity fall compared to the year before, and most compared to the last quarter of last year as well.

Dell, EMC, and VMWare, possibly with an expensive acquisition in mind, all saw their spending drop. In EMC’s case, the figure nearly halved down to $470,000. Yahoo!, despite its own money worries and acquisition nearing, saw its efforts stay at a steady $690,000 for the quarter.

HP – now split into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise – has seen its spending spilt very unevenly. HP Inc. spent just $300,000, while HPE saw over $1 million go towards lobbying efforts.

Both Alibaba and DJI are newly registered and spent fairly small figures - $130,000 and $80,000 respectively – the former on issues around IP and product safety, the latter unsparingly on the FAA’s rules around flying drones.

While they attract plenty of funding and headlines, the world’s Unicorns are generally fairly low-key in their lobbying efforts. Palantir’s spending – generally the biggest Unicorn spender - was down slightly to $270,000, while Salesforce and Uber saw record quarterly spends of $360,000 and $320,000. The mysterious Magic Leap also saw an increase in its spending - $220,000 went to education around AR, VR and Mixed Reality in the first three months of 2016, compared to $180,000 for the previous six months combined.



Q1 2016 SPEND

Q1 2015 SPEND



$3.8 million

$5.47 million

Advertising, privacy, IP, trade, Safe Harbor, immigration, security, renewables, spectrum, AI cars, UAVs, education 


$2.78 million

$2.44 million

Cybersecurity, IP, Immigration, privacy & surveillance, tax, trade, education 


$2.65 million

$1.91 million

IP, tax, drones, privacy, Safe Harbor, cybersecurity, postal reform, immigration, trade, cloud, mobile payments 


$2.02 million

$1.89 million

Trade, cybersecurity, cloud, standards, privacy, education, IP, immigration, tax, spectrum 


$1.73 million

$2.05 million

 Spectrum, chemical use, trade, education, energy, cybersecurity, telematics


$1.72 million

$1.29 million

Procurement, security, standards, privacy, IP, copyright, education, immigration, tax 

Intel (Corp)

$1.23 million

$1.17 million

Cybersecurity, trade, 5G, connected vehicles, smart cities, tax, IP, education, IoT, chemicals, drones, diversity 


$1.13 million

$1.17 million

IP, tax, transportation, tax, education, green, energy, trade, privacy, mobile payments 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

$1.05 million

$1.13 million [pre-split]

Privacy, surveillance, supercomputing, energy, trade, education, immigration, tax 


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Dan Swinhoe

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

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