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Illustration by Mike Sullivan

Stripe, Mozilla, Others Form Tech ‘Challenger Group’ to Sway European Policy

By  |  Nov. 12, 2020 6:00 AM PST
Photo: Illustration by Mike Sullivan

A few years back, two Brussels-based lobbyists from midsize tech companies were out for drinks, and in the course of the conversation they realized they had a common problem. Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook were sucking all of the oxygen out of European debates about regulating the internet, leaving out the voices of smaller companies—despite the fact that those policies can have a very different impact on them.

The European lobbyists and policy officers from other companies—a motley array that included Mozilla, Stripe, Transferwise, Etsy, Dropbox and Spotify—began meeting regularly in Brussels, often in bars and restaurants, to share their experiences, according to two people familiar with the matter. Some of them jokingly referred to the outings, which haven’t been previously reported, as “whine and dines.” The companies, which have continued to gather during the pandemic over video calls, even have a name for their informal network, the two people said: the challenger group.

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