The Open Internet Letter

I realize I’ve been writing a lot this week about the FCC’s decision next week on new rules for the last mile Internet here in the US. I promise I will return to the regularly scheduled programming soon. But this is a big issue and we need to keep up the pressure on the FCC to do the right thing here.

Today, about fifty leading VCs have signed onto a letter to the FCC asking them to keep the Internet free of fast lanes and slow lanes.

We are hoping that more angel investors and VCs will want to sign onto this letter today before we send it to the FCC tomorrow.

We pulled this together quickly over the past 24 hours, and weren’t able to directly reach as many VCs and other investors as we would have liked, so will gladly welcome additional signatories throughout the day today before we formally file this with the FCC tonight. Email nick [at] usv [dot] com if you’d like to join.

This debate is just picking up, and it will be critical for everyone who cares about innovation on the Internet to wrap their heads around this issue, and engage on it, as the FCC runs its rulemaking process through the summer and fall.


Comments (Archived):

  1. takingpitches

    A rare two post day!

    1. Nick Grossman


  2. Andrew Kennedy

    Great letter.

  3. LE

    We are hoping that more angel investors and VCs will want to sign onto this letter today before we send it to the FCC tomorrow.I think it is actually better if a v2 of the letter gets sent later (and is slightly different) rather than more signatures on the same letter actually.In other words, sure, get as many signers as you can but if people don’t meet the cutoff simply have a 2nd letter. 10 letters from 10 different influential people by my thinking is better than 1 letter from 100 people. Three protests over 3 days better than 1.Might want to add (understand this would take much work of course) some facts and figures (for media consumption) on the number of companies invested in by the group of 50 as well as the jobs created by those companies. I wouldn’t assume the people who read this have any particular knowledge or respect for the majority of the signers. [1]Separately I’m not sure the letter’s theme would be easily understood by a typical person outside of the industry.[1] Which is part of the point of “jobs created” and companies invested in.

  4. Brian Galgay

    A group of NYU Stern MBAs created a video / primer on Net Neutrality to help detail how we got to this point. I’ve really enjoyed reading Fred’s posts on the topic and hope you find our video contributing to the dialog.

  5. Tom Labus

    You have to make a lot of noise to get Congress to notice. We all can do without programming for this week.

  6. michaelbstrong

    Great letter, great leadership. One typo before you ship:This line”…Reddit, Dropbox and virtually other consumer Internet service did to achieve scale).”should read”…Reddit, Dropbox and virtually every other consumer Internet service did to achieve scale).”or”…Reddit, Dropbox and virtually all other consumer Internet services did to achieve scale).”

  7. Emily Merkle

    Why limit the signatories to VCs?

    1. jason wright

      money talks… a peer-to-peer world…………, but politicians need funds.

  8. Stephan Jacob

    Are you looking for VC signatories only or founders too?

  9. Richard
  10. laurie kalmanson


  11. jason wright

    it’s raining today. in Hemingway’s world that spells trouble. i wish you well with this campaign.

    1. pointsnfigures

      85 and sunny in Chicago…..finally!

  12. Salt Shaker

    Applaud the initiative, but it’s hard to fathom the FCC will be sympathetic to a bunch of VC’s and angels. They’re likely perceived as part of the 1%. Perhaps an angle with greater resonance is to articulate how stringent guidelines and discriminatory policies will stymie job creation. Quantify the number of jobs created by investments from USV and other VC’s…and how similar, future investments are at risk. This group letter (although strongly worded) is very qualitative, which is a bit surprising since the VC biz is so metric driven. There’s strength in numbers and a history of job creation presumably can be easily quantified.

    1. CJ

      The 99% don’t have a voice in this, we could but Dr. Maslow notes that we have other pressing concerns. This is the recipe for power and control btw. Shift the 1%’s needs up the pyramid and the 99%’s down and you never have to worry about them challenging your dominance.

    2. Tomas

      yes, but also – amplify the impact of the sector on innovation in regard to solving some of the worlds most pressing problems.Innovation always comes from young flexible companies that move fast and break things.

  13. Donnie Kelly

    Fred, while all “bits” may be equal, not all content is. When two companies (Netflix and YouTube) hog 50% of traffic during peak hours, the villains here – cable companies and telcos – have to spend billions each year upgrading network infrastructure so that consumers get an overall good experience. Traffic is going to keep growing, and so capacity does too.Those costs to continually upgrade the network are going to have to be absorbed by someone. Unfortunately what no one seems to see is that those costs will be absorbed wholesale by consumers if Net Neutrality – as is being advocated by you and others – stands. It’s a great deal for Netflix and YouTube and companies that you invest in: it’s like a trucking company that doesn’t need to buy any trucks to transport goods.Of course I see the point that we don’t want to create disadvantages for startups and make it a wholesale payola system. But it doesn’t feel fair either to penalize ISPs 100% as the villains here.By the way, Google Fiber shows that it doesn’t have to be a duopoly in all markets. Anyone could build in these markets and local governments will welcome them with open arms as they do Google Fiber. Maybe regulation is not the answer as you suggest, but more competition. Has your fund looked into becoming an ISP overbuilder as an investment? I bet not. And inversely, if you had invested in Comcast 30 years ago when they were a regional cable company – and had spent billions trenching roads, putting up cables and hooking up millions of homes – what would your position be? Once upon a time, these cable companies were the scrappy startups who took a risky chance – family companies not that different from the kids you invest in today.Just trying to let people see a somewhat different perspective here.

    1. ShanaC

      So, meter, don’t discriminate

      1. Donnie Kelly

        Yup, that’s what’s going to happen. And people won’t like it. Everyone is used to unlimited Internet for one price.Plus, again, it’s shifting the burden from Netflix and YouTube to consumers. The peering arrangements that Netflix has agreed to recently kept consumer prices the same. As much as I like Fred and think his heart is in the right place, frankly his opinion is undoubtedly biased and is great for his pocketbook too.Won’t metered Internet also hurt entrepreneurship? Any new startup that requires users to use up a lot of bandwidth will also be burdened. What will that do to 4K video for example?

        1. kidmercury

          we’ll see metering, than we’ll see big players (i.e. amzn, goog, aapl, etc) foot the bill, which is exactly the kind of thing that NN is supposed to stop. so it doesn’t matter, NN cannot work no matter how much they try, it is not consistent with key trends.

        2. ShanaC

          depends on how the metering works. If you have metering + changing the rules that the internet providers are like phone companies, you could see over time prices drop very low.(That would be my ideal)

          1. Donnie Kelly

            By phone company I think you mean local telephone companies — and you are alluding to making them Common Carriers. Ok, so you want them to just be a utility and have price regulations? Do you think that’ll lead to innovation and faster speeds? If all ISPs throughout the US are essentially run by state governments?This is the problem. I don’t think most people know much about what it takes to run an ISP or have thought this through beyond ISP = evil and Net Neutrality = nirvana.

  14. JimHirshfield

    Well done.

  15. pointsnfigures

    I signed it. I want the FCC to butt out. Let free markets decide. For stopping them before they do something stupid and permanent, like Dodd-Frank or Obamacare.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Free markets sometimes fail. Live in need of a program such as Obamacare before deriding intervention altigether.Free markets always look good when there’s food on the table, kids in college, and your orthopedic guy on speed dial.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Free markets allocate resources better than an individual or panel. Obamacare sucks. It could have been so much better had it been thought out of the box. Free markets work equally for everyone. They don’t discriminate.

  16. William Mougayar

    That is one impressive list of Tech VC’s.

  17. sigmaalgebra

    Looks okay.As elsewhere in this thread, data on jobs might be good.And might mention US balance of payments: In…as of July, 2011, is in part, for Google, “company’s bottom line as international revenue now outstrips U.S. revenue.”.As in…I sent my letter.Hopefully the results will be as good as for the SOPA/PIPA battle.From Internet users who like ‘network neutrality’, the FCC may feel they just had a 100 story building fall on them.The old advice was, “Don’t get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”. Well, hopefully we can update that advice to “Don’t get into a fight with people who communicate over the Internet.”.My understanding of punctuation says that the following is a compound sentence and, thus, needs a comma after “committees”:”Ideas will be vetted by committees and quirky passion projects will not get a chance.”

  18. Dave W Baldwin

    Good job!

  19. Twain Twain

    It would be great to have some way of following up and timelining developments in policy awareness campaigns that AVC community gets involved with.I just read this on TC and immediately thought of fredwilson’s post:*

  20. Alexander Tuller

    Don’t know what sparked this, but this reminds me of when Theodore Roosevelt passed the Hepburn Act — the gov’t regulated the railroads because so many people and businesses were dependent on them (big business were getting preferential rates). Sound familiar to what would happen with the FCC ruling? The only reason TR could pass the Act in the end is because of a groundswell of public & media support. Keep it up AVC.

  21. nick


  22. john murphy


  23. pointsnfigures

    it could. another argument for another day.

  24. Emily Merkle

    I speak from experience, which I know of course is no basis for a meta-economic model. I am a free-market proponent. Always have been. But when chickens come home to roost, and the free market is working against you, personally, in a very impactful way – it opens your eyes to the inequities that exist in spite of the rallying cry of “Free markets don’t discriminate / Free markets work for everyone”. There is statistical standard deviation. I just happen to fall into it hen it comes to healthcare. And living in the standard deviation is not economical, efficient, or non-discriminatory.(Emily is assisted off her soapbox, because she has been uninsured since becoming a self-employed entrepreneur in 2010, due to a preexisting condition – and can’t afford to get her knees scoped. Until last week.)

  25. pointsnfigures

    unfortunately for both of us, healthcare wasn’t a free market before O-care, and it isn’t now. If they designed it like a free open competitive market, we would pay less and get more care.

  26. Emily Merkle

    You are not wrong. But powerful interests bought their way into protecting said interests, and the federal gov’t is a cheap date at that.