The new era of lobbying - Chapter 1 : The Uber example.

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 17th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3ju4h9zf/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Business Opportunities

"Uber has been in a campaign but hasn’t been running one" realised Travis Kalanick, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the firm Uber.(1) "That is changing now"(2) he added before welcoming a new Chief Executive, the Senior Vice President for Policy & Strategy, David Plouffe.(3) The latter made his intention clear without delay : “to change the point of view of established politicians”.(4)

1. Uber, the contender.


After managing the campaigns of numerous politicians in the United States, including President Obama, Mr Plouffe has chosen to put his experience at the service of Uber. This private company was created five years ago to fulfil a “simple mission: Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone.”(5) Uber is currently active in 45 countries.(6)

This expansion as encountered the opposition of firms already operating on the same market. Among them, the Taxi industry has been the most active and the most effective. It has risen against a business that hires private drivers without the obligations that lay upon professionals. This argument has not been in vain.(7) Travis Kalanick was force “to realize that this controversy exists because we are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber. Our opponent – the Big Taxi cartel – has used decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers.”(8) These words impliedly express how important the lobbying exerted by David Plouffe will be.(9)

2. Lobbying, centuries of existence.


“Broadly speaking, lobbying refers to the attempt by anyone, for any reason, to persuade a public official to take any sort of decision on any topic (from the enactment or rejection of a bill or any other regulation, to the funding of a certain project, to the appointment of someone to a public office, and so on).”(10) When this activity of influencing and pressuring public officials becomes a full time commitment, it is then the matter of professionals, the lobbyists.

They first prospered in the United States, where, “for many decades, there was only piecemeal regulation of lobbying . Nonetheless, the Supreme Court had a chance to express its view of this activity in a line of cases between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th in 1946, the first comprehensive law on lobbying was enacted, the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (FRLA). The FRLA imposed on lobbyists some duties of registration and disclosure.”(11) More than half a century later, only one European state has taken decisive steps towards the legal framing of the lobbying activity.

In 2014, the United Kingdom enacted the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. The precise conditions of its implementation still need to be concretised. In October 2014, the British Government is trying to effectively create the statutory register of consultant lobbyists, notably by looking for the right person to become “the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists who will be established as an independent, statutory office.”(12)

3. Lobbying, economically indispensable.


The United Kingdom is the first European state to take into account the necessity of regulating an area which has been immune from the strictness of the law. This area is the realm of constantly evolving economic activities, at odds with the slowness of the judicial scrutiny. It encompasses not only businesses breaking with traditional formats but also professionals who can operate on it.

Some of these professionals are fine legal specialists able to use existing rules to create useful structures to operate on spaces away from the grasp of the law. Their can occupy various positions in or out of a firm, unlike the lobbyists. The latter make sure that operations organised in areas with loose legal constraint will not be excluded when the law exerts its full force. Instead of thinking of economic situations that do not yet exist, lawmakers have chosen to regulate the activity of those professionals who contribute proactively to the normalisation of the disruptive businesses.

The CEO and co-founder of Uber admits that the “roots are technology, not politics, writing code and rolling out transportation systems. The result is that not enough people here in America and around the world know our story, our mission, and the positive impact we’re having."(13) In an article for Entrepreneur, Ray Hennessey, editorial director, notes that “history is full of examples where companies found that their tin ear to the government's priorities led to some hefty sanctions and billable hours. The most obvious example is Microsoft, which didn't even have an office in Washington, D.C., when it found itself waist deep in an antitrust fight with federal regulators over its Internet Explorer browser in the late 1990s. Microsoft narrowly avoided being split into different companies as a result. In the end, the fight with the government led Microsoft to seeing its share of the browser market decimated.”(14)

The fight is now disputed by Uber. This firm is only the visible element of a cohort of enterprises whose activity shakes established economic or legal models. Each of these disruptive enterprises now needs someone able to operate in troubled environments (II)(15) with the consent of the law (III)(16).

The present chapter is part of The new era of lobbying volume.

SOURCES


(1) ENTIS Laura. Uber Hires Former Obama Campaign Manager to Battle the 'Big Taxi Cartel' (online). 19 August 2014. Entrepreneur. <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236656> accessed 09 October 2014

(2) Ibidem

(3) Ibidem

(4) Ibidem

(5) KALANICK Travis. A leader for the Uber campaign. (online). 19 August 2014. Uber. <http://blog.uber.com/davidplouffe> accessed 10 October 2014

(6) Uber. 45 countries – Available locally, expanding globally (online). Uber. <https://www.uber.com/cities> accessed 16 October 2014

(7) MILLER Ron. Airbnb and Uber Face Some Harsh Realities (online). 08 October 2014. TechCrunch. <http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/08/airbnb-and-uber-face-some-harsh-realities/?ncid=rss> accessed 14 October 2014

(8) KALANICK Travis. A leader for the Uber campaign. (online). 19 August 2014. Uber. <http://blog.uber.com/davidplouffe> accessed 26 January 2015.

(9) ENTIS Laura. Uber Hires Former Obama Campaign Manager to Battle the 'Big Taxi Cartel' (online). 19 August 2014. Entrepreneur. <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236656> accessed 09 October 2014

(10) De CARIA Riccardo. The constitutional right to lobby on the two sides of the Atlantic: between freedom and democracy. Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2013, 2(3), p. 455

(11) De CARIA Riccardo. The constitutional right to lobby on the two sides of the Atlantic: between freedom and democracy. Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2013, 2(3), pp. 458-459

(12) Cabinet Office. The Statutory Register of lobbyists : draft regulations (online). September 2014. <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/353009/140909_statutory_register_of_lobbyists_consultation_paper.pdf> accessed 07 October 2014

(13) KALANICK Travis. A leader for the Uber campaign. (online). 19 August 2014. Uber. <http://blog.uber.com/davidplouffe> accessed 10 October 2014

(14) HENNESSEY Ray. The One Executive Position Every Startup Now Needs to Fill Today (online). 20 August 2014. Entrepreneur. <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236683> accessed 05 October 2014

(15) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying (online). <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yqPy3gf7EcqHSPK3j4yy1nRHlPBJ9nyElj13qiRFiHM/edit?usp=sharing> accessed 30 May 2015

(16) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. Why firms need lobbyists now more than ever - III. Lobbyists, operators recognised by the law (online). <https://bitly.com/bundles/alainpatrickumucyo/1> accessed 26 January 2015

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