Was Net Neutrality Truly Neutral? Here’s the Score Card

Was Net Neutrality Truly Neutral? Here’s the Score Card

The number of IPOS, pre and post Net Neutrality, from Statista

There’s currently a push on to reinstate Net Neutrality (U.S. Democrats unveil legislation to reinstate net neutrality rules). “The bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s December 2017 order that repealed rules approved in 2015 that barred providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes,” says the Yahoo piece.

The stated promise of Net Neutrality was a “free and open internet” and maintaining “the last mile.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

In case you haven’t noticed, with the reversal of Net Neutrality in 2017, we haven’t witnessed “blocking or slowing down of internet traffic” by ISPs.

It’s a misnomer issue placed on legislation that had produced the exact opposite.

Time to also do the math:

Under Net Neutrality, 2016 IPOs Hit Lowest Count Since 2009. Noted the San Francisco Chronical, “This year’s crop includes 9 biotech companies and two financial firms. But several of the biotech deals were “quasi IPOs,” because almost half or more of their newly issued stock was purchased by existing investors, said Kathleen Smith, a principal with Renaissance.”

The number of acquisitions Google made under Net Neutrality was much higher than after it was reversed.

Facebook also made many more acquisitions than there were IPOs during that period. Same with Amazon, especially in sectors where the company looked to expand its footprint, including hardware, home services, financial services and cloud.

2013 – pre Net Neutrality – was a Blockbuster Year For IPOs: 218 IPOs And Beyond, according to Seeking Alpha.

Only 13 Venture Capital-Backed Tech IPOs in 2016, and for the record, Net Neutrality was reversed.

According to MarketWatch, “until late last year, FAANG stocks were the leaders in outperforming the market. The chart shows that former champions Apple and Amazon are now drastically underperforming. The chart shows that Google (which today is known as Alphabet) and Facebook are also underperforming.”

FAANG is falling. LUPA (Lyft, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb), which are a few of the major tech companies about to go public, is Wall Street’s acronym du jour.

In attempting to restore Net Neutrality, is the focus off? Consider:

9 Major Upcoming IPOs to Watch in 2019, including Uber, Lyft, Slack, Pinterest and Airbnb.

In case you missed it, Google Search Dominance Has Businesses Paying for Their Name, trademarks be damned, in a Google-dominated world. “Google controls many of the ways businesses access customers online in the U.S., making it almost impossible to run a company without buying advertising from the internet giant.

As politicians increase scrutiny of large technology companies, Google’s lock on these digital relationships is becoming a potential liability, not just a lucrative advantage praised each quarter by Wall Street analysts.”

Considering that Google controls more than 81% of the mobile search market and not getting a lock on your brand means that your competitors will, it’s a monopoly.

What to speak of the censorship issues that we’ve been witnessing on all of the major platforms, including YouTube (Google), Facebook and Twitter, all of which continue to escalate.

The Truth About Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality was passed before the legislation was properly vetted or even read. Then FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said at the time that he was loath to go into specifics “so as not to lose the very useful element of surprise as we attack those who might abuse their liberty to deviate from what promotes the common good.” Wheeler acknowledged that “folks can be reassured that we will prohibit any and every individual or corporate action that we deem injurious to the nation’s collective well-being.”

Which is precisely what we’re witnessing, re the censorship on the part of all of the platforms that have more or less become monopolies and have arguably become injurious to the nation’s well-being.

Enter the red herring that was the so-called Net Neutrality issue once again.

Net Neutrality’s reversal went far in putting some of the air back into the startup ecosystem. With tech IPOs once again in the offing and new startup ecosystems springing up around the country, Silicon Valley is no longer the soul and center of the tech universe and the necessary destination, if you have any hopes of creating a successful company. Note to self: of the nine big tech IPOs expected, Lyft is headquartered in Santa Barbara, and WeWork (The We Company) in NYC. And it’s been a long dry spell between big tech IPOs. Nine, count ‘em, nine. And those are just the major ones.

With the advent of social and the new-found ability of the big tech platforms to control and manipulate the conversation, time to put the real problem into our sights. Namely, Platform Neutrality, and if you’re looking for guidelines on how that might be implemented, 300+ pages of legislation aren’t necessary needed: the basics are spelled out in the Manila Principles, sanctioned by the Electronic Freedom Foundation et al. There’s a start.

It’s the platforms – Facebook, Google/YouTube, Apple/the App Store and Amazon/Twitch that are now very much controlling that so-called last mile. According to this recent article, “A manager at Google allegedly cautioned a lower-level employee for questioning the company’s stance on “fake news,” telling him that the company had to stop fake news and “hate speech,” because “that’s how Trump won,” according to a post aired publicly by another Google employee on social media.” Was it hate speech, or the kind of speech that Google hates? Net Neutrality’s promise of a free and open internet proved to be anything but. Platform Neutrality may be a start in restoring the dialog that comes with a free and open internet. And speaking of dialogs, it’s a conversation that’s long overdue. Onward and forward.


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