Defending the open internet

Over the last couple of weeks, the future of the open net has come into sharp focus, as the FCC’s 2010 open online principles were struck down in court, then plans for new rules from the FCC came to public view. Amidst fears that that the world wide web is **ked, debate has raged about what this means for net users, investors and entrepreneurs.

Today, we’re joining a group of about fifty over 100 VCs and angel investors to voice our concern to the FCC as they consider how to proceed — especially, concerning the impact we expect a retreat from open net rules to get on internet innovation.

It is undeniably clear that the world wide web continues to be an insanely fertile platform for investment and innovation over the last ten decades. It is less well known that during this time, internet access providers have operated under a de-facto state of open online coverage (dating from this 2005 FCC memo), even prior to the 2010 formalized open internet rules were declared.

By way of instance, it enabled Foursquare to reach 100,000 users on $25,000 dollars and Tumblr to reach millions before they hired their 10th employee. They could compete on equal terms with the biggest incumbents, and get the love of consumers only on the merits of the services.

And we have seen how the change in the mobile landscape from a carrier-controlled marketplace to a program platform market, with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, has blown open the mobile market for investment and innovation. We have also seen how, as mobile program platforms exert more control and limit access to the current market, the cycle of innovation slows.

So today’s letter says our hope that the FCC will weigh all available options when considering how to keep the most competitive, vibrant market feasible for internet applications.

We pulled this together quickly over the past 24 hours, and were not able to directly reach as many VCs and other investors as we’d have liked, so will happily welcome additional signatories through the day now before we officially file this with the FCC tonight. Email nick [at] usv [dot] com if you want to join.

This debate is only picking up, and it’ll be critical for everyone who cares about innovation on the world wide web to wrap their minds around this problem, and participate on it, as the FCC runs its rulemaking process through the summer and fall.

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