An Advocacy Group For Startups Is Funded By Google And Run By Ex-Googlers

By: David Dayen, The Intercept, May 30, 2018

A WASHINGTON-BASED ADVOCACY organization that purports to be a voice for startup tech companies is actually a sock puppet for Google, according to a report released Wednesday that details numerous links between the two.

According to the report, startup advocacy group Engine has at least seven former Google employees and consultants on its board of directors and advisory board. Its three founders all previously worked at Google; they founded a startup incubator that Google eventually bought. Google has given Engine an undisclosed amount of funding over the past five years. The two share a lobbying firm called S-3 Group. The initial launch party for Engine in 2011 had attendees RSVP to a Google email address, which is reserved primarily for employees, unlike the Gmail address that is offered to the public.

On numerous issues, from patent reform, anti-piracy efforts, and high-skilled immigration, to the recent changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Engine’s advocacy and Google’s stated policy preferences are in alignment, the report explains. Google even funded a research paper that Engine later released.

“Public officials need to be aware that this so-called startup advocacy group is really in bed with Silicon Valley’s foremost D.C. influence machine, whose interests are often in conflict with those of disruptive entrepreneurs,” said Daniel Stevens of the Campaign for Accountability, which released the report.

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