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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Internet Association (IA), once the tech industry's top lobbying shop in Washington, representing companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, will close by the end of the year, its board announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: IA's board voted Wednesday morning to dissolve the organization. A source familiar with the situation, who alerted Axios to the pending vote on Tuesday, described it as a formality, with the decision already made.

  • Microsoft's departure, first reported by Axios, made the decision imminent, and put the other members in a precarious financial position. Uber recently left the organization as well.
  • Politico first reported the news that IA would dissolve

Why it matters: IA was once a highly influential group, fighting for policy to help internet companies grow with limited government regulation. It described itself as the "unified voice of the internet economy." That unified voice simply doesn't exist anymore.

  • While the IA has historically avoided working in the areas of antitrust and competition, many of its top members are now in the crosshairs of antitrust investigations and proposed bills around the world. All the while, its members constantly compete with one another.
  • The organization has long worked to promote the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that shields tech from most liability from third-party posts, but members were increasingly at odds over that policy and legislative paths forward.

Details: IA has seen steadily waning influence in D.C. in recent years, as Axios previously reported.

  • Former president Michael Beckerman is now at TikTok. Current CEO Dane Snowden came from a cable lobbying group.

What they're saying: The source familiar with the situation said Microsoft's departure made keeping the association going unviable, put it in a financial crisis, and that paralysis on big policy issues bogged the organization down.

  • "What was once a leading voice for tech companies is fading into obscurity with barely a whimper and hardly anything to show for itself," one former employee told Axios.
  • “Our industry has undergone tremendous growth and change since the Internet Association was formed almost 10 years ago, and in line with this evolution, the Board has made the difficult decision to close the organization at the end of this year," IA's board of directors said in a statement.
  • "As this chapter closes, member companies remain committed to advancing public policy in support of this mission and will continue to work with stakeholders in other capacities.” 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Internet Association's board and reflect that it voted to dissolve the organization.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 13, 2022 - Technology

Microsoft to review harassment policies, including Gates allegations

Photo: Getty Images

Microsoft said on Thursday that it is launching a review of its policies and practices regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination, with plans to issue a public report expected this spring.

Of note: Microsoft says the report will summarize the results of any investigations of potential sexual harassment by board members and senior executives — including the board's look into allegations made against co-founder Bill Gates.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.

Updated 39 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.