Has the US Election dampened technology lobbying?

As the United States elections finally comes to its zenith, technology companies will be watching closely to see if they get a candidate that promises to make at least some concessions to the industry, or one that says he will force companies to ‘make their damn iPhones in the US’.

The US Government recently updated its lobbying database outlining how much companies are spending in their efforts trying to influence policy makers. Although the majority of the 20 biggest lobbying spenders in the technology industry spent more than in the comparative three months last year, just over half had reduced their spending from the previous quarter, suggesting that companies have slowed their efforts in the face of uncertainty.

As ever, Google (seemingly yet to register under the Alphabet name) was the biggest spender, laying out $3.81 million lobbying for a diverse range of subjects including advertising, privacy, IP, trade, immigration, security, renewables, spectrum, AI cars, UAVs, education, and more. Although slightly down on Q2, the search giant’s year-on-year Q3 spending was up slightly.

Amazon, a company that has started spending big onlobbying Capitol Hill in recent years, followed a similar pattern; spending slightly less than the previous three months, but more than the same quarter the year before. The eCommerce and Cloud giant’s outlay was $2.71 million this quarter.

Despite the recent merger, both Dell and EMC continued to spend large amounts independently. Dell spent slightly less in Q3 of this year - $640,000 vs $670,000 – while EMC’s spend jumped to $970,00 from $670,000.

Salesforce saw it’s comparative spending leap from $80,000 to just under $300,000 (but again spent less than earlier in the year), while eBay’s like for like lobbying costs almost doubled to over $500,000. Secretive Augmented Reality startup Magic Leap more than doubled it’s spending from Q3 2015, but reduced its spend from the previous three months.

Uber rival Lyft, which registered on the database last year, saw its year-on-year quarterly spend increase ten-fold, from $10,000 to $100,000, pushing for issues around smart cities, ride-sharing, autonomous vehicles, and tax. Uber itself saw like for like spending triple to over $300,000.

BlackBerry, although registered on the lobbying database, hasn’t spent more than $5,000 in a quarter since 2014.

  Company Q3 2015 spend Q3 2016 spend % +/-
1 Google $3.65m $3.81m +4.38%
2 Amazon $2.02m $2.71m +34%
3 Microsoft $1.89m $2.22m +17.46%
4 Facebook $2.59m $2.02m -22%
5 Qualcomm $1.59m $1.29m -18.87%
6 Oracle $2.48m $2.01m -18.95%
7 Apple $980,000 $1.07m +9.18%
8 Hewlett Packard Enterprise $740,000 $1.06m +43.24%
9 EMC $670,000 $970,000 +44.78%
10 Intel (Corp) $1.06m $871,000 -17.83%




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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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