Business & Lobbying

Coalition forms to advocate for coronavirus relief aid for app companies

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Application companies are banning together to call for modifications to the small-business loan program so they are able to qualify for coronavirus relief aid. 

The App Coalition officially launched on Wednesday and its members include app providers such as Booking.com, Priceline, Kayak, Open Table, Blix/Blue Mail, Perry Street Software, SCRUFF, Jack’d and Fritzy.

Companies must have 500 employees or fewer to be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which received $310 billion in new funding from Congress and began accepting new applications on Monday.

Technology startups backed by venture capital firms have to count employees of its investors, which often puts them over the threshold. 

“Companies as standalones that meet the threshold are being excluded,” Greg Guice, executive director of the App Coalition and senior vice president at McGuireWoods, told The Hill.

Guice and his colleagues have been forming the App Coalition for more than a year but focused its short-term goals on coronavirus relief aid once the pandemic hit. 

“As we look at how people are getting health care, it’s through telehealth and we’ve seen a lot of changes recently. Distance learning has been part of our everyday lives now. And we’re looking at how people are engaging in teleworking through apps that some had not even encountered,” said Michael Drobac, a consultant to the coalition and senior adviser at McGuireWoods.

The coalition is focused on creating a consistent message for app companies and educating lawmakers about their impact on the U.S. economy. 

“If you think about what a stay at home order would look like without the apps that you use in your daily life — as severely impactful economically as this is — imagine what the impact would be?” Guice said. 

The coalition’s long-term goals include advocating for a uniform privacy regime, content moderation issues, mobile advertising issues and best data security practices. It will also push for a strong Section 230 defense, which refers to protections for internet platforms in the Communications Decency Act.

“It’s really difficult to have coalitions or companies speak for the app economy when they have a diversity of offerings,” Drobac said.

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