If the new administration rolls back net neutrallity protections, technology investors worry that start-ups will not be treated equally, Ellie Wheeler, partner at venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Tuesday.
“I think why people are freaking out is because what we all hope for — those of us that invest in technology — is for the same opportunity for the next Google and the next Netflix,” Wheeler said. “So that in the next 20 years, all of those companies that are upstarts have the same access, and the same ability to reach the end users.”
President Donald Trump named Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has told CNBC that he opposes net neutrality policies that reclassify broadband as a public utility.
Net neutrality is the concept that Internet providers can’t discriminate between, or charge more for, more intensive types of content, such as streaming.
Proponents have argued that the government should protect consumers and content creators, like Netflix, by regulating the internet similarly to a utility. But opponents to the net neutrality standards have called the protections government overreach.
Pai is widely expected to roll back regulations and let the companies decide what to charge. He did not expand on his ambitions to remove regulations on Monday. He’s told CNBC that net neutrality “is going to make for slower broadband for Americans, will increase their internet bills, and ultimately will reduce competition and innovation in the broadband marketplace.”
“Ajit has been very anti-regulation, pro-free markets, particularly about net neutrality, Title II, a lot of the issues that are likely to be addressed under a new FCC and a Republican president, Republican Congress,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffeisaid in a “Squawk Box” interview on Tuesday. “I think those are all very bullish for cable.”
But in terms of innovation, Wheeler said the opposite — it may make it harder for new companies, that can’t afford to pay more for distribution, to compete.
“The big concern, theoretically, is that taking this away, and taking these protections away, make it that much harder to for the next wave of innovation,” Wheeler said.
— CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, Jacob Pramuk and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Credits to CNBC.