Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Beltway Hustle: Google Quickly Gaining on Microsoft in D.C. Lobbying Spending

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.

While Microsoft has needed all the help it could hire in Washington, D.C., after its antitrust debacle many years ago, Google is quickly catching up to it as a tech power to be reckoned with in the nation’s capital.

According to the most recent public reports filed by Google (GOOG) with the Senate on its lobbying spending there, the search giant has significantly increased its outlay in 2009 from the previous two years.

In 2007–as you can see from the table below (click on the image once to make it larger)–Google spent a total of $1.52 million, which rose to $2.84 million in 2008.

And the 2009 total? Just over $4 million, according to the Lobbying Disclosure Act Database.

That’s probably no surprise given the ever-growing range of issues of concern to U.S. regulators due to Google’s increasing number of deals and because of many new and often controversial initiatives the company is forging forward with.

From pushing for approval of its DoubleClick acquisition in 2007 to its failed attempt to strike a search and online partnership with Yahoo (YHOO) in 2008 to last year’s wrangling with book publishers to 2010’s expected tussle over its $750 million purchase of mobile advertising start-up AdMob, Google’s presence in D.C. is only going to rise as its ambitions expand.

In the fourth quarter of 2009–according to its report, which you can read in its entirety below–Google spent $1.12 million lobbying the House and Senate, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies, on topics such as “privacy and competition issues” related to online advertising, copyright laws and its book search settlement.

And this does not take into account Google’s spending in states across the country, as well as globally.

Interestingly, Microsoft’s reported lobbying spending in D.C.–which the software giant has been doing for much longer, with an even more complicated presence (can you say: consent decree?)–has declined in that same period, although it remains larger than Google’s.

In 2007, Microsoft (MSFT) spent $9 million, which fell slightly in 2008 to $8.9 million, before dropping to $6.72 million in 2009.

In the fourth quarter of 2009–according to its report, which you can also read in its entirety below–Microsoft spent $1.69 million buttonholing an alphabet soup of federal agencies and pols in the House and Senate on an even wider variety of issues than Google, including open government, visas, tax reform, free trade and, of course, “competition in the online advertising and software markets.”

Translation: Google-bashing in D.C.!

But now, it seems that Google’s ever-deeper lobbying wallet means turnabout is fair play.

As the stakes rise, check out Google’s and Microsoft’s most recent quarterly filings below:


goog lobbying _

msft lobbying _

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work