As a nice bookend to our Lerach/TechNet birth post yesterday, Washington Post top lobbying columnist Jeffrey Birnbaum writes today about how the tech industry is doing well so far in their battle for patent reform legislation.
I say this not only because of the direct line between the vision of getting the industry better organized in 1997 and the ability to succeed on an important issue in 2007, but also to point out the dichotomy in environments at either ends of the last ten years.
From 1997-1999, Silicon Valley engaging with DC was sexy and fascinating. We could get big stories in national papers and regular features in Bay Area papers about what CEO was meeting with which politician and who was giving to who. We held well-attended media roundtables with visiting congress folk seemingly on a monthly basis to just talk about the big issues of the day. There were magazine stories and a BOOK about the consultants serving as liaisons between the two worlds.
The WHOLE point of this was to create a situation where the Valley could be successful in fighting or passing legislation favorable to it, innovation and consumers. And, to be successful means being well-coordinated among trade groups. It means that TechNet would employ a smart political giving strategy; and, it means that a very complex issue could be broken down and made relevant to policymakers and their staffs.
The purpose was never to stay sexy for sexy's sake. It was to do the work necessary to win -- even if that means getting your fingernails dirty.
And, now, here we are and success is pretty boring. (Much like Mark Cuban's take on the "boring" Internet).
Only a handful of souls in Silicon Valley will read Birnbaum's column and learn how the techies are currently beating a well-funded, experienced and savvy opponent. Most in the Valley will have little idea how hard people are working on patent reform and what it might mean for their company and bottom line. And, some reporters will ignore how the industry has been laser-focused and well-coordinated on this issue and equate the lack of glitz for a lack of action.
But, this is okay. This is how it should be. Boring successes should be normal.