Lots of people have been speaking up about why PROTECT IP is a terrible, terrible idea that will have massive unintended consequences for innovation online. We’ve seen the biggest names in venture capital tell Congress that PROTECT IP would chill investment in new innovations. We’ve seen top technologists explain how PROTECT IP messes with fundamental infrastructure and security elements of the internet. And we’ve had a bunch of well respected law professors explain to Congress that the bill is almost certainly unconstitutional.
One voice has been missing, however: the actual tech entrepreneurs and startup execs who will be impacted most directly, because PROTECT IP will put both the costs of compliance and the burdens of liability directly on their shoulders. Entrepreneurs are famous for staying out of policy debates like this. This isn’t a surprise. Entrepreneurs are focused on building the next great innovation and the next great company — creating lots of new jobs both directly in their companies and via the new innovations and platforms they create.
PROTECT IP is such a dreadful, job killing bill that it’s finally sparked entrepreneurs to speak out. A large group of entrepreneurs, both well known and less well known, have teamed up to send a letter to Congress warning about the impact of PROTECT IP, and asking them to reject this bill which is nothing more than an attempt to give a handout to the entertainment industry. Over 135 entrepreneurs have already signed on (yes, including me). Collectively, these entrepreneurs have directly created over 50,000 new jobs in their companies, but more importantly have created hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs via their innovations, platforms and services.
It’s great to see such a diverse group of startup entrepreneurs — many of them serial entrepreneurs — team up on such an issue. The list of participants includes folks like Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter and Blogger, Ian Rogers, the CEO of TopSpin, Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga, Dennis Crowley, founder & CEO of FourSquare, Joel Spolsky from StackExchange & Fog Creek Software and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. It includes people like Chris Shipley of Guidewire Group, who for years ran the DEMO conferences and Tim O’Reilly (who I’ll just assume you know because you’ve read the books he’s published). It includes entrepreneurs from great platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and GiltGroupe. And there may be some names on the list that you might not recognize today, but who are building the next generation of great startups to produce services that you will use in the future. It’s really a who’s who of entrepreneurs who helped build the key internet services you use today and will use in the future — and they’re all quite reasonably scared of what PROTECT IP means and how it will chill innovation in the startup community.
All of us who put together this letter want to make sure that the voice of entrepreneurs is heard loud and clear — and as such, we’re still accepting additional signatures from entrepreneurs. If you’ve been a founder or held a job-creating role at a startup, please sign the letter as well, following the instructions at the top of the document, and we can continue to make sure that the voice of the folks who really create new jobs and support the economy are actually heard from in DC.
Members of Congress and the President claim that they’re focused on passing legislation that creates jobs. So why are so many pushing for PROTECT IP, when the companies who actually innovate and create the new jobs for the future are so against it?