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Google spends a record amount on lobbying

With Congress and privacy watchdogs breathing down its neck, Google is stepping up its lobbying presence inside the Beltway — spending more than Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft combined in the first three months of the year.

Google spent $5.03 million on lobbying from January through March of this year, a record for the Internet giant, and a 240 percent increase from the $1.48 million it spent on lobbyists in the same quarter a year ago, according to disclosures filed Friday with the clerk of the House.

By comparison, Apple spent $500,000; Facebook spent $650,000; Amazon spent $870,000; and Microsoft spent $1.79 million. Google even outspent Verizon Wireless, a notoriously big spender, which spent $4.51 million.

The increase is a sign that the search engine company can no longer afford to operate in a Silicon Valley vacuum. For years, Google had a reputation for indifference inside the Beltway. It took Google until May 2005 to set up a presence in Washington and, even then, its headquarters consisted of a one-man lobbying shop in suburban Maryland.

—Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

$550 million patent pact for Facebook and Microsoft

SEATTLE — A plan by Facebook to acquire a broad range of patents through a deal with Microsoft is on its surface yet another twist in the battles over intellectual property engulfing the tech business.

But the subtext of the deal is a different story, showing how two of technology’s most powerful players are teaming to create a greater balance of power on the Internet — a market that has been tilted decisively in favor of one company, Google, for years.

“This is almost certainly a move against Google,” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group, a research firm.

The agreement between Microsoft and Facebook, announced Monday, came less than two weeks after Microsoft agreed to pay more than $1 billion for 925 patents held by AOL. In a second deal, Microsoft said it had turned around and sold 70 percent of those same patents — about 650 in all — to Facebook for $550 million in cash, along with rights to 275 AOL patents that Microsoft plans to retain.

—Nick Wingfield, The New York Times

Netflix predicts slow subscriber growth for next quarter

Netflix said Monday that it finished the first quarter with nearly 3 million more streaming subscribers than it had started with, showing continued interest from Internet users despite the company’s missteps last year.

But the company’s prediction of slower subscriber growth in the second quarter rattled investors Monday afternoon. In after-hours trading, Netflix stock slumped more than 16 percent.

Netflix blamed “increased seasonality” for its second-quarter projections, anticipating 23.6 million to 24.2 million U.S. subscribers in its streaming video service, a gain of 200,000 to 800,000. At the end of the first quarter, it counted a total 23.4 million such subscribers, up 1.74 million from the prior quarter.

The company also said that it added 1.21 million subscribers in international markets, for a total of 3.07 million outside the United States.

In a joint letter to investors, the Netflix chief executive, Reed Hastings, and the chief financial officer, David Wells, said the company — which had projected it would lose money this year because of international expansion plans — would return to global profitability in the second quarter.

—Brian Stelter, The New York Times