By Jennifer Martinez - 11/20/12 12:31 AM EST
The Information Technology Industry Council's (ITI) executive committee decided on Monday to suspend its discussions with TechNet about merging their trade associations into one unified tech trade organization.
The vote marks the end of the merger talks between ITI and TechNet for the foreseeable future.
In an interview, ITI President Dean Garfield said the driving force behind the executive committee's decision "is the loaded agenda for 2013 and the desire to focus our energy as much as possible on making sure the voice of the tech sector is heard next year." He said the talks "won't necessarily pick up again in the near term," but noted that ITI still has "a strong interest in continuing to work with TechNet" on policy issues that are critical to the tech community.
Rey Ramsey, CEO of TechNet, issued a similar statement in an email to The Hill.
"Both organizations will continue to move ahead, and we look forward to future opportunities to partner with ITI as there is a big agenda before us," Ramsey said.
The executive committee's decision signals a shift in ITI's temperature towards the merger from this summer. ITI's board of directors, a subset of its executive committee, voted in favor of moving forward with the trade group's discussions to merge with TechNet in July. ITI had originally hoped to wrap up these talks by the end of the year.
While both trade organizations are focused on the same sector and some of its member companies overlap, they struggled to bridge some cultural and leadership differences during the merger talks, according to a lobbyist familiar with the negotiations.
TechNet's board is led by the CEOs and senior executives of its member companies. Cisco CEO John Chambers and venture capitalist John Doerr helped launch the trade group and now serve as its co-chairs. The policy agenda of ITI, on the other hand, is primarily led by its member companies' government relations officials.
Garfield acknowledged that there were unresolved differences between the two groups over what the governance structure of the new organization would look like.
"It is accurate to say the governance structures were different," he said. "It's ultimately one of the issues we continue to talk about that hasn't been resolved."
ITI has several heavy hitter tech companies on its membership roster, such as Apple, Google, Cisco and eBay. TechNet also boasts an impressive list of member companies--such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Symantec--but it also includes younger tech companies such as LinkedIn.
-- Thist post was updated with a comment from TechNet