The life of an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist in the tech and communications sector differs significantly from that of Federal Communications Commission chief. And if FCC chair nominee Tom Wheeler plans to swap the former life for the latter, he’ll have to do a significant amount of divesting in order to be confirmed. This is according to a letter to FCC general counsel Sean Lev outlining Wheeler’s planned divestitures and ethics pledge. The document was made available by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Wheeler is barred from buying or holding as FCC chairman a financial interest in any company that has a “significant” interest in matters subject to FCC regulation, which would include virtually all communications and lots of tech companies.
According to his letter, Wheeler will resign from Core Capital Partners, the venture capital firm where he is currently partner and managing director. He will not take any severance or bonus other than outstanding salary for services rendered before he gets the FCC job—which is subject to Senate confirmation. He will also divest his interest in his holdings in two Core funds.*
Wheeler will resign as chairman of SmartBrief, the e-newsletter company whose clients include the National Association of Broadcasters, CTAM and the American Advertising Federation. While he will not divest the stock, Wheeler said he will not participate in any matter that has a “direct or predictable effect” on the financial interests of SmartBrief. The same can’t be said for SmartBrief, which will certainly be aggregating and curating the news Wheeler makes at the FCC for its newsletters.
Wheeler has already resigned from the board of Transaction Network Services, a communications platform provider, and says he will exit the board and sell his stock in Earthlink.
Wheeler itemized the companies whose stock he will be divesting, and the list includes a Who’s Who of cable and telecom companies. Wheeler is a former head of the NCTA and CTIA: The Wireless Association—whose fortunes he will now be regulating.
The list of companies: Akamai, Amazon, AMC Networks, Alliant Energy, American Electric Power, Apple, AT&T, Atlantic Wireless/Aloha Partners, BCE, Boeing, Broadcom, Brocade Communications, Cablevision Systems, CBS, CenturyLink, China Mobile, China Telecom, Cisco, Citrix, Clearwire, Columbia Capital Funds II and III, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, DirecTV, Dish Network, eBay, EMC, Ericsson, Expedia, Flextronics, France Telecom, Frontier Communications, Gannett, General Electric, Google, Great American Broadband, Grupo Televisa, Harris Corp., Hewlett-Packard, Hutchison Whampoa, IBM, Idacorp, Ignition Partners, Intel, Interdigital, Juniper Networks, L-3 Communications, Liberty Interactive, Liberty Media, Medtronic, Motorola Solutions, NetApp, NetScout Systems, News Corp., Oracle, Portugal Telecom, Priceline, Qualcomm, RF Micro, Rockwell, Scripps Networks, Singapore Telecom, Sprint Nextel, TE Connectivity, Telefonica, Telenor, Texas Instruments, Time Warner, Time Warner Cable, Trimble Navigation, United Continental Holdings, Verizon, Vodaphone, Walt Disney and Windstream.
(*Wheeler said he will not weigh in on a matter that has a direct or predictable impact on any of the companies before it’s divested, unless he gets a waiver or exemption, but he will divest them in any event.)
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