Posts Tagged ‘Yelp’

Yelp Gives Lobbying Five Stars

Friday, January 10th, 2014 by Vbhotla

IT’S UNDERSTOOD WITHIN the beltway that to remain successful, companies should lobby. As Apple learned the hard way, not having friends in Washington can backfire when the political winds are unfavorable. That’s a lesson fellow tech company Yelp has taken to heart, as they’ve dramatically boosted their Washington lobbying presence in the last few months.

Before this fall, it seemed as though Yelp didn’t think much of having advocates on the Hill, but that’s rapidly changing. In October, The Hill reported that the tech company hired its first lobbyist in Laurent Crenshaw, a former aide to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on the House Oversight Committee.

Unlike fellow tech companies like Google and Facebook, both of which have had a lobbying presence on Capitol Hill for years, Yelp is late to the lobbying game. But they seem intent on making up for lost time. Ars Technica reports that Yelp registered its first PAC with the Federal Election Commission on December 31st, a sure sign that the company intends to step into the influence game.

So on what issues will Yelp focus its lobbying efforts? As The Hill notes, Yelp depends on user-generated reviews, so it must ensure that it can host negative reviews of businesses without being vulnerable to libel suits. Further, Yelp is seeking the creation of a federal anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) law. Supporters of the bill argue that such lawsuits are used to intimidate users of companies such as Yelp who post negative reviews of businesses. By supporting an anti-SLAPP bill, Yelp would ensure that its livelihood (namely user reviews) is protected.

Of course, as The Huffington Post notes, Yelp will also likely lobby on many of the same issues that Facebook and Google have backed, in particular the Innovation Act, which seeks to curtail patent trolls and which passed the House of Representatives last month.

Will Yelp’s efforts pay off?  History suggests that they will. As The Sunlight Foundation found in 2012, companies who lobby do better than companies that don’t, and with Apple’s advocacy face plant fresh in Silicon Valley’s mind, it seems likely that other tech companies will take Yelp’s lead.

Top Lobbyists of 2013

Friday, November 1st, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

THE HILL HAS  just unveiled it’s annual “Top Lobbyists” list, and LobbyBlog seized the opportunity, as it did last year, to speak with its wearied compiler-in-chief, Business & Lobbying Editor Dustin Weaver.  It did not go unnoticed that the short time Weaver spared for these questions came at the expense of an impending print deadline, so many thanks are owed.  Any typographical errors in the latest print edition of The Hill can be blamed squarely on LobbyBlog.

LobbyBlog: Only two people are new to the list of top corporate lobbyists. Does this reflect the difficulty of breaking into corporate lobbying in Washington?

Dustin Weaver: It reflects the fact that corporations don’t like to talk about their lobbying. The people who work for them usually operate behind the scenes and aren’t seeking to publicize their work.

LB: The premise to last year’s list read that 2012 “hasn’t been the best year for K Street…” How has 2013 been?

DW: It’s shaping up as another down year. Most firms are treading water when it comes to revenue, and there’s not much hope of things getting better before the midterm elections. Gridlock in Congress is the new normal, and it’s making it harder for lobbyists to drum up business.

LB: What key characteristics distinguish the lobbyists who make the list from those who don’t? What is it that makes them so influential?

DW: Influence, like charisma, is one of those things that can’t be quantified; you know it when you see it. Some of the Top Lobbyists are masters of policy, others are great at building relationships. Some have great access, while others shape the debate using grassroots organizing. People rise to the top in different ways.

LB: One of last year’s big trends was the growth in the number of tech companies hiring lobbyists – Twitter, for example. Yelp just hired a lobbyist earlier this month. Is this an ongoing trend?

DW: Tech is the new boom industry, and their growing lobbying presence reflects that. The bigger companies like Google and Facebook get, the more lobbying help they need in Washington.

LB: Here’s an excerpt from Mark Leibovich’s This Town, which received a lot of buzz this year: “In 1974, 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists. Now, 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of congressmen do. No one goes home anymore.” Can you expand on this?

DW: Law and lobby firms definitely place a high value on the insider knowledge that only lawmakers can provide.  Why more lawmakers are choosing to make the jump to K Street, I can’t say. But as a career move, it seems to be more acceptable now than it used to be.