Airbnb and Uber join new lobbying group to take on regulators

Airbnb and Uber join new lobbying group to take on regulators

The ‘sharing’ economy is but one part of the big tech opportunity that remains on the minds of regulators across the world.

New York’s Major Bill DeBlasio has come to a peaceful, short-term deal with Uber that has seen the city drop plans to cap the number of Uber drivers pending a four-month traffic study.

But Airbnb’s situation is still up in the air as the Mayor struggles to decide if and how to regulate those people who are using Airbnb to create hotel businesses  – and driving up rents for normal New Yorkers in the process.

Now the most powerful names in tech, including Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, eBay, Medium and Snapchat, have all put their cash into a new lobbying group in the city that will be chaired by leading VC Fred Wilson.

Tech:NYC is a nonprofit, membership group that builds on the work of other organizations like NY Tech Meetup and the Partnership for New York City to support the growth of the now two-decades-old tech sector.

It will, of course “advocate for policies that will attract tech talent, jobs and opportunity to NYC” that:

  • underscore a regulatory environment that supports the growth of technology companies and technology talent in NYC
  • promote inclusivity
  • ensure access for all New Yorkers to connectivity, technology tools, and training

The team is no doubt keeping an eye out for New York’s first unicorn and so the organization is free to join for startups with fewer than 20 people.

Its new executive director in charge of day-to-day ops is Julie Samuels, someone who cut her teeth as an attorney with the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and recently asked that the 2016 presidential candidates answer the big questions tech demands. Most notably perhaps: WTF do any of the candidates think about tech?

Her last job was as executive director at nonprofit Engine, which advocates for startups in San Francisco and has produced a range of reports that cite tech as the golden goose for job creation. In a recent TechCrunch post, Samuels claimed each new tech job is responsible for creating 4.3 local non-tech roles.

As well as ongoing regulatory challenges, Mayor DeBlasio’s administration has been criticized for failing to offer any real additional support to the tech sector following that of former Mayor Bloomberg. Its efforts to engage the wider population through civic tech projects – including a proposed legislative voting platform – have also fallen pretty short.

Given that many of Tech:NYC’s members are embroiled in big questions of their own about their power over global markets, policymakers here might hope the regulatory environment it seeks to promote isn’t one that simply signs big checks over to the tech industry no questions asked.

But with job and wealth creation key metrics with voters, the tech industry is an increasingly hard one to say no to, and Tech:NYC represents a new and strong voice that’ll be hard to ignore.

Launching Tech:NYC on Tech:NYC via The Verge

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