Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski is joining private equity firm The Carlyle Group as a partner, focusing on IT, media, and telecom investments, reports Adi Robertson for The Verge. Genachowski served as FCC chair from 2009 to March 2013, and spent time working at the FCC in the 1990s as well.
Genachowski has years of IT, investment experience
When Genachowski stepped down last year, he received mixed reviews for his tenure, with some people calling him “a pushover” that would become a good example of regulatory capture, and other pointing to his work defending net neutrality and promoting broadband as real victories at a particularly difficult government post. While it’s natural for him to use his deep expertise in telecoms in the private sector, it won’t be surprising if his new position gives new ammo to some of his critics (and if he had joined Comcast or one of the other companies he was supposedly too easy on, you can bet that allegations would already be flying).
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Genachowski has previously worked at internet firm IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) and equity firm General Atlantic, and helped found IT seed investment firm LaunchBox Digital, giving him years of experience investing in IT before President Obama tapped him to helm the FCC. He has spent the last half year teaching at Harvard Business School and doing research at the Aspen Institute.
Net neutrality under attack
Ironically one of his signature accomplishments, putting net neutrality into policy, is still under heavy attack and could begin to unravel in the coming weeks. The D.C. District Court of Appeals is getting ready to rule on whether the FCC has the authority to impose net neutrality on telecoms in Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) vs. the FCC, reports Kate Tummarello for The Hill. Net neutrality, which prohibits the telecoms who control the infrastructure underpinning the internet from blocking legal content or providing different transmission rates for different services (to give themselves and their partners a competitive advantage) is an important, often unstated, assumption in many IT business models. If it were ended, Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) could provide Comcast Direct at high speeds while making Netflix unwatchably slow, for example, leading to fairly predictable results.