Regulatory hacking

The idea of regulatory hacking — “combining public policy and alternatives to traditional marketing for startups to successfully scale in the next wave of the digital economy” — is important for new companies interested in changing energy, healthcare and especially government itself to understand.

Sonal Chokshi has a terrific a16z podcast interview with Evan Burfield, co-founder and co-CEO of D.C.-based global incubator 1776, that discusses the concept and strategy behind its effective execution.

“Think right now,” says Burfield. “Who’s is the most iconic entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, the one all the kids these days are aspiring to? It’s Elon Musk. Every one of his businesses is based on a regulatory hack.”

The idea, first socialized by Burfield in 2014, is that, in order to be successful, startups must create strategies, either integrative or combative, to deal with regulatory and policy issues. Key examples are Airbnb and Uber.

“At 1776, we believe that regulatory hacking is the best way to disrupt entrenched industries,” and writes co-founder and co-CEO Donna Harris. “Regulatory hacking means using the system to your advantage to drive scale, exerting outside influence on the system by engaging the public, or doing a complete end-around the system to force change from the outside. Fascinatingly, it’s a strategy big companies and trade groups have mastered and expertly used to their advantage for decades.”


Listen to “The Art of the Regulatory Hack“:

5 a16z podcast episodes for government

I recently discovered Silicon Valley venture capital firm a16z’s podcast series, and it’s a sign of the times that a VC is leveraging media in a way that not just promotes their portfolio companies, but also addresses the government and regulatory affairs issues Silicon Valley, startups and technology companies increasingly face.

The podcast is a must-follow for anyone in technology, and here are five episodes to get everyone in government IT started.

The changing relationship between tech and government

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/teammuriel/19565355230/">DC Mayor's Office</a>)

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Photo: DC Mayor’s Office)

Silicon Valley venture capital firm a16z hosts an excellent discussion with current Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and former mayor Adrian Fenty on its a16z Podcast series.

The episode, “The Changing Relationship Between Tech and Government,” touches on how the sharing economy has pushed government to let go of top-down innovation and find ways to collaborate with these new ventures, as well as get proactive in cultivating an environment that supports local startup ecosystems.

Bowser shares her thoughts on how mayors can work with these new firms to better gauge the pulse of the residents and advises tech entrepreneurs to focus on the largely untapped market market of human services, such as affordable housing, health and wellbeing and homelessness.

The discussion also underscores the importance tech firms must give to the third of Steve Case’s “3 P’s“: policy.