Category Archives: News Center
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
A North Coast senator is taking aim at online vacation rental businesses such as Airbnb through proposed legislation that could reap millions for cities and counties in uncollected bed taxes, but critics slam as government over-reach and a threat to the so-called sharing economy.
But critics said the bill would be bad for business and for innovation.
“While consumer protections are generally a great thing, consumers shouldn’t be fooled by this barely-veiled, anti-competitive threat to innovative marketplaces,” Mike Montgomery, executive director of CALinnovates, said in a statement.
When the FCC released it’s Net Neutrality Order last week, it cited a White Paper commissioned by CALinnovates and drafted by NERA. The authors of NERA’s White Paper issued a response. What follows is the conclusion, with a link to the full response, below:
We stand behind the basic results of NERA’s White Paper and find that, if anything, the Order has actually made us more worried about the state of competition and innovation than we were before seeing it, assuming it manages to pass its initial, and inevitable, court challenges. Although the Order is quite long, the actual new rules are very short, reflecting the difficulties that nomenclature and case-by-case analysis will bring. Further, the Order tries to describe the new rules as “light-handed,” ignoring the incentives of aggrieved parties to achieve through FCC litigation what they could not achieve in open competition. As a result, innovation is shackled with new costs that could kill, or at least severely hamper, further development of the Internet ecosystem.
(Via Tech Crunch)
Ride-sharing companies are not strangers to Congressional inquiries. This week a group of Congressional Democrats hit the CEOs of Uber, Sidecar and Lyft with another letter, this time demanding the companies conduct more comprehensive background checks on their drivers to better protect customers from sexual assaults.
Although these companies conduct internal screenings, the cohort of lawmakers do not believe they go far enough. The representatives called on the companies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, both new and existing. The representatives believe a change to the policy is needed following the alleged string of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
(Via The Hill)
Instead, it could kill off an industry that has finally helped combat piracy.
Today, listening to the music you want to hear is easier than ever. Forget waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio or camping out on a Tuesday night to be one of the first to buy the latest CD. Thanks to streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio, listeners have access to millions of songs at the click of a mouse for less than the cost of buying one CD per month.
But while consuming music is now a breeze, ensuring the right people are getting paid for their work is more complicated than ever.There’s no question that the royalties system is broken. Artists and songwriters are being compensated for their works under completely outdated laws that line the pockets of the record labels while leaving the artists high and dry. But simply raising the royalties tech companies have to pay for music won’t help the situation — if anything it will make it worse.
Via Tech Crunch
A bill designed to regulate ridesharing companies in California is back. State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian has submitted a bill aimed at placing new rules on companies like Uber and Lyft. Assembly Bill 24, however, is incredibly similar to Assembly Bill 612, which failed in committee in 2014. Nazarian notes in a release on the bill that 24 is “similar” to 612, which is understatement.
Maligning ridesharing services as “simply high-tech hitchhiking,” Nazarian claims to be “hopeful that after too many senseless and preventable acts of violence [that] ridesharing companies would be more inclined to work with me to pass legislation that restores the public’s trust in this wonderful and innovative transportation model.”
From a March 6, 2015 op-ed in The Hill by Executive Director Mike Montgomery
The United States’ policy schizophrenia regarding the Internet was on full display last week in Washington. On one day, the Commerce Department explained to a Senate committee why it’s important for the U.S. government to take a hands-off approach to the Internet as a reason why it’s ending its ties to ICANN. And on the very next day, the Federal Communications Commission explained why it’s important to take a hands-on approach to the Internet by imposing net neutrality rules.
Meanwhile, other governments must be smirking at us.
From a March 5, 2015 article in the LA Times.
“Regulation of ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar is making a comeback in the California Legislature this session.
Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) introduced a bill that would require all drivers working for ride-hailing companies to register their cars as ride-hailing vehicles with the California Public Utilities Commission and display decals identifying them as such.”
Mike Montgomery, executive director of technology advocacy group CALinnovates, which counts Uber and Sidecar among its partners, described the introduction of AB 24 as “outrageous” and “blatantly uncompetitive.”
It might not be the hippest platform but it gets the job done
by Mike Montgomery
A University of Austin undergrad recently took to Medium to explain how his generation really views social networks. Unsurprisingly, Instagram and Snapchat are the places young consumers are most likely to hang out. Twitter is a bit of a mystery. Tumblr is a secret society everyone is in. LinkedIn is something they have to do and Pinterest is for artsy women.
Facebook is dead to them.
Well not completely dead. In the next breath, writer Andrew Watts admits that everyone has a Facebook account because while Facebook can be weird and annoying, “if you don’t have Facebook, that’s even more weird and annoying.”
So what’s a small business supposed to do with this breakdown? Everyone wants to reach the young demographic but Snapchat is reportedly asking $750,000 for an ad that disappears as soon as the viewer has seen it. That’s out of reach for pretty much every small and medium sized company.
Businesses know they need to be marketing on social media. But the range of sites and the sheer volume of available data can be overwhelming for a company that may only have a few employees and a tiny marketing budget.
I turned to Michael Perry, the founder of Kit*, to help walk me through the different options. Full disclosure, Perry’s company is a member of CALinnovates, the tech advocacy group where I serve as executive director. Kit acts as a digital marketing assistant helping small businesses place ads on different social networks.
According to Perry, Facebook is still far and away to best place for small businesses to advertise. Just look at Watt’s breakdown of the teen view of social networks. They might find Facebook annoying but everyone is on there.
“Their giant size is the biggest pro to advertising on Facebook,” says Perry. “Their targeting is better than anyone else.”
For less than $100 Facebook gives small business owners the opportunity to target a demographic as specific as women 25–40 who are moms, live in San Francisco and like yoga. Ads show up in Facebook’s mobile stream as well as online and give users a way to directly interact with the company.
Theo Yedinsky, one of the founders of the social media services company Social Stream Consulting, said that when his wife set up an exercise studio in Brooklyn, they immediately turned to Facebook for advertising. A new client special offer quickly paid for the price of the ad and most importantly, got people in the door to try out the studio.
“Facebook is the biggest and most important platform,” says Yedinsky. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”
The downside of Facebook, according to Perry, is that the fire hose of data can be overwhelming for many small business owners.
“You can get into a very nasty spider web if you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Perry. “It’s easy to go too specific or too broad.”
The social networking site is finally starting to become a force in advertising. According to the company’s latest earnings report, demand for ads is outstripping supply. For the fourth quarter, promoted tweets were up 130% helping boost revenue 97% to $479 million.
But for the most part, the site still mystifies small business owners. Perry says he’s trying to figure out the best way to use Twitter but one thing the site is clearly very good for is giving business owners a chance to talk directly to their customers and to listen to them.
“You can build a brand around having a conversation and that’s free to do,” says Perry. “There’s a lot of emphasis on that for right now.”
Perry calls Pinterest the golden nugget of social networking.
“I can’t stress how many people are interested in Pinterest ads,” says Perry, because Pinterest users are already in the buying mood when they click on the site. The company is only now starting to roll out promoted pins, which will be the Pinterest equivalent of ads. Right now only companies invited to use the beta can create promoted pins but the program is expected to roll out soon.
The big question is how much promoted pins will cost.
“We assume it will be impression based but it could be pay per click,” says Perry. “We just don’t know yet.”
The hottest player in social media today offers crazy engagement and an age demographic to die for but Perry says the price is just way too high for anyone whose brand isnt’ huge.
The Facebook owned photo-sharing site is a good place to build a brand but not a great place for small businesses to try and buy ads. Ad space on the platform is limited and pricey right now. According to this article from Ad Age, a month-long ad campaign on Instagram can cost as much as $1 million. That keeps small business owners out of the sandbox but Perry expects they’ll eventually be asked to play as supply goes up and prices come down
As important as social networks are, they shouldn’t be the only arrow in a small business’ quiver. Social media expert Chase Norlin, who now runs the labor force training organization Transmosis*, says it’s important to try lots of different kinds of ad platforms, including Yelp, AdRoll, and Google, and see which mix performs best.
“Social media is valuable not because the user is so engaged but because of the targeting and automation that goes on there,” says Norlin. “It’s really all about the data that exists behind the scenes.”
Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a coalition advocating on behalf of California’s tech community.
Read the article as first published on Medium
FCC Commissioner to Tech Industry: It’s Time to Reinvent Textbooks, Teaching
After increasing spending by $1.5 billion on Internet broadband projects for schools FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asks the tech industry to innovate for education.
SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of its Dec. 19 decision to raise Internet connectivity funding for schools by $1.5 billion, the Federal Communications Commission urged Silicon Valley to couple funding with innovative educational material.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel spoke to the audience of tech entrepreneurs at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters on Jan. 8, highlighting the FCC’s recent efforts and encouraging the digital disruption within teaching and the textbook industry. The event was hosted by the tech advocacy group CALinnovates.
In October, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors did something very smart; by a vote of 7 to 4, it made Airbnb legal.
In some ways, this was not news. The fact that the room rental service had been technically illegal in the city did not stop thousands of homeowners and travelers from taking advantage of the Internet platform. In fact, as many as 5,000 San Francisco rentals are available on Airbnb on any given day. But the short-term rentals were violating city laws that classified them as businesses and therefore not allowed in residential zones. The new law creates a safer environment for Airbnb users and will contribute millions to the city’s tax coffers.
San Francisco is an example other cities and states need to follow. They need to both clear a path for new entrants and protect the health and safety of consumers.
This does not mean following New York’s lead. The New York attorney general recently came down hard on Airbnb. A report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, based on subpoenaed information, showed that 72 percent of all Airbnb listings in New York City are considered illegal under the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law or city zoning laws. Those rentals accounted for approximately
$304 million in revenue over the past four years. Furthermore, Airbnb is big business in New York where more than 100 renters own more than 10 units each and illegally generate millions of dollars in revenue.