It seems that the most news about Google these days comes from their relationship with politicians and process in Washington, DC rather than making money selling advertising through its search engine. Recently, its been discussed here that the FTC is interested in Google CEO, Eric Schmidt’s, position on the board of Google and Apple as well as his appointment to President’s Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Now ClickZ reports of the stepped up Q1 ’09 lobbying efforts of the most recognized brand in the world.
When you are as big as Google there will always be detractors and those who want to cry foul every time Google hiccups. The ClickZ article says
the firm’s own public affairs team, along with at least 25 hired lobbyists, have been up and down Capitol Hill meeting with congressional staffers in the hopes of convincing them Google is no threat to industry competition.
Last year’s Department of Justice shut down of the proposed Yahoo advertising deal has apparently made Google very skittish. Late in last year’s presidential campaign when it looked pretty good for President Obama to win, CEO Schmidt’s campaigning was stepped up. That has now culminated with his spot on the committee (PCAST) that can directly influences policy on technology matters. Lobbying and landing a strong political “Atta boy!” position is evidence that Google is looking to smooth out the bumps for future activities including possible energy plays. Looks like bigger government will be good for Google since they seem to be part of it more and more every day.
Google is now getting firmly entrenched in the DC political machine and has upped its spending on these efforts early on this year.
In the first quarter of 2009, Google spent $880,000 on federal lobbying expenses, $370,000 of which was paid to seven outside lobbying firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Google public policy execs and the other lobbyists met with staffers representing several Congress Members and committees, including aides to Sen. Maria Cantwell, who sits on the Communications, Technology and the Internet subcommittee; Sen. Jeff Sessions, who works on the Judiciary Committee; and Senators Mark Pryor and Mike Enzi, who both sit on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
Other areas that are on list of stops for the “Google DC Express” include the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which encompasses a Technology and Innovation subcommittee. Of course, the FTC is going to get some attention and even library organizations worried that its Book Search will be a possible monopoly of sorts relating the digital book world.
An interesting take on this was noted in the article as well
Although much of the antitrust concern regarding Google tends to center on its search business, the company’s presentation compared itself to older firms with multiple, more established businesses. Comparing itself to Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, and IBM, Google noted its own revenues, profits, staff, and lobbying budget are smaller.
Google really loves to play every angle. They want to be different than the traditional companies in how they do business yet are willing to compare themselves to the corporate standards when trying to deal with political issues. Apparently it is better to play in those circles when looking to get political muscle built up. Now, make those comparisons in the marketplace and Google will cry foul saying they are the innovator and savior of the new world order.
So how do you view this? Is Google becoming too political or is this just something they have to do considering the size and stature of the company? Is there a line that can be crossed or are they simply carrying out political process through lobbying which was supposed to be severely limited in the new administration anyway? I’m sure you have some opinions……