Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Tech flooded the zone in Q1 lobbying

Apr 24, 2024
Data: U.S. Senate; Chart: Axios Visuals

Tech companies shelled out millions in the first quarter of 2024 to lobby Congress on appropriations, privacy and other issues.

The big picture: Tech has no shortage of policy issues to worry about this year, and the fast-tracking and passage of the TikTok sell-or-ban bill serves as a reminder that no tech policy debate is ever really over.

By the numbers, per an Axios review of federal lobbying disclosures:

  • Google spent $3 million in Q1 2024, a slight boost from $2.8 million in Q4 2023
  • Apple spent $2.1 million in Q1 2024, a dip from $3 million in Q4 2023
  • Amazon spent $4.3 million in Q1 2024, almost on par with its $4.5million in Q4 2023
  • Meta spent $7.6 million in Q1 2024, a big jump from $4.7 million in Q4 2023
  • Microsoft spent $2.3 million in Q1 2024, a slight rise from $2.1 million in Q4 2023.

The intrigue: ByteDance, currently fighting for TikTok's life in the U.S., spent $2.7 million this quarter lobbying, a jump from $1.3 million in Q4 2023.

  • TikTok, which has lobbyists registered separately from ByteDance, spent $440,000 on additional outside consultants this quarter.

Records show ByteDance paid $80,000 in the first quarter of 2024 to David Urban, a former Trump campaign and RNC adviser, to lobby on its behalf.

  • That comes as former President Trump said he was opposed to the TikTok bill, though he kicked off the process of potentially banning TikTok when he was president.

Continued focus on AI: OpenAI spent $340,000 lobbying this quarter.

  • That surpasses the $260,000 total it spent in 2023. This quarter, OpenAI focused on a few AI bills having to do with foundation models, research and elections.
  • A16z shelled out $280,000 to discuss open source AI and financial technology with lawmakers.

Follow the money: Most tech companies that lobbied this quarter focused on appropriations and the doling out of money from packages like the CHIPS Act, along with AI, patent and copyright bills.

  • There was a continued focus on kids' online safety legislation, federal privacy, digital trade and overseas data sharing, cloud computing, immigration and competition.
  • Apple and Meta still lobbied on app store and journalism competition bills, and preserving Section 230 remains on tech companies' lobby list.
  • TechNet and and the Consumer Technology Association, both tech trade associations, spent more this quarter than they did in the same time period last year.
  • Snap spent $420,000 this quarter, a record sum for the company.

X has majorly pulled back from lobbying, spending only $170,000 this quarter compared with $310,000 in the first quarter of 2023.

The bottom line: Congress is slow, but it moves when it feels like it. Tech lobbyists are keenly aware that even when issues seem dead, they need to be vigilant.

Go deeper