Scott Cleland - President, Precursor LLC -- Proven Thought Leadership, Chairman, NetCompetition

Scott Cleland

Founder, Precursor®

Bio Summary

Scott Cleland is a proven thought leader and influential ‘Techlash’ precursor concerning Internet competition, policy, and unaccountability.

He has a 26-year track record of being the first analyst/strategist to anticipate and navigate many major changes in communications and the Internet, initially for top institutional investors, and then for Fortune 100 companies in six industries.

Cleland’s copious original Internet research over the last decade, in several hundred PrecursorBlog posts, consistently anticipated and documented the primary Internet unaccountability problem patterns that predictably have precipitated the current global ‘Techlash,’ i.e. Internet problem patterns with Internet policy, economics, security, accountability, antitrust, privacy, intellectual property, liability, and fraud.

Cleland is Founder of Precursor Research LLC, a new 2019, Precursor® branded, investment-related start-up. Institutional Investor twice ranked him the #1 independent analyst in his field. He has been profiled in Fortune, Barrons, WSJ's Smart Money, Investors Business Daily, National Journal, and Broadcasting and Cable.

He served as Deputy United States Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration; and served on the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Communications & Information Policy for six years in the W. Bush Administration and six years in the Obama Administration.

Eight different Congressional subcommittees have sought Cleland’s expert testimony a total of sixteen times, and globally sixteen publications have featured his op-eds.

He is the author of the 2011 book: Search & Destroy: Why You Can't Trust Google Inc., which has been translated into Portuguese and Korean. U.S. Congressional Subcommittees asked him to testify three times on Google; and governments on four continents have sought his Google expertise.

A Proven Thought Leader over Three Decades

As an investment analyst, Cleland was the first to anticipate and navigate:

  1. The FCC rollback of cable rates by double digits when the market missed the risk;
  2. Passage of the seminal 1996 Telecom Act that revolutionized communications policy from monopoly to competition for the first time, and facilitated the open Internet;
  3. That the Telecom Act would strongly favor the Baby Bells over AT&T/long distance;
  4. That it would be legal and advantageous for the Baby Bells to merge/consolidate;
  5. That changes in media ownership rules would trigger a rapid roll-up of the radio industry, going from a limit of ~30 stations to allowing 1000+ radio station groups;
  6. That the FCC's managed competition policies of heavy price subsidies favoring CLEC local competitors would fail, and that mass CLEC bankruptcies would occur;
  7. That the DOJ would block WorldCom-Sprint ending WorldCom’s roll-up growth;
  8. That WorldCom was “dead growth model walking” near its peak $140b valuation;
  9. Later that WorldCom would go bankrupt; it did, triggering the Sarbanes-Oxley Act;
  10. That the $1 trillion fiber bubble part of the $4 trillion Dotcom bubble would burst because the market assumed annual data traffic growth was 12x faster than reality.

As an industry Internet strategist, Cleland was first to anticipate and document:

  1. 2007: The Google-DoubleClick anticompetitive case, in Senate testimony;
  2. 2008: The dependency crux of the Google-Yahoo ad agreement problem;
  3. 2008: How Google systematically threatens Americans’ privacy in House testimony;
  4. 2009: The systemic risk of uneconomic risk laundering from mass ETF indexing;
  5. 2009: How Google extends its search monopoly to monopsony over digital info;
  6. 2009: Privacy problems with online behavioral advertising, in House testimony;
  7. 2010: Competition in the evolving digital marketplace, in House testimony;
  8. 2011: Google’s unaccountable information power in first critical book on Google;
  9. 2011: Why the Google-Motorola acquisition and patent play backfires
  10. 2012: The ways the world was going to fundamentally change the Internet;
  11. 2012: The unique Google privacy problem – for the South Korea Privacy Council;
  12. 2013: The peaking of America’s Internet dominance after the Snowden NSA leaks;
  13. 2013: That Bitcoin/cryptocurrencies were a clear bubble that would end badly;
  14. 2013: Discovering and defining the Internet’s largely hidden cyber-ideology;
  15. 2014: Charting Google’s monopoly world-wide-watch over the WorldWideWeb;
  16. 2015: Defining cyber-systemic risk for the first time;
  17. 2016: Detecting Facebook/Google abruptly stopped competing in search & social;
  18. 2016: How Google’s information is power -- info-opoly power;
  19. 2017: US Internet sector is 10x more concentrated than the offline marketplace;
  20. 2017: Amazon, Google & Facebook are standard monopoly distribution networks;
  21. 2017: The telling timeline of Google’s extraordinary U.S. government influence;
  22. 2017: Why Facebook/Google/Amazon would be epicenter of bipartisan ‘techlash;’
  23. 2017: US antitrust enforcement credibility crisis: 3 Internet monopolies & 4 cartels;
  24. 2017: How Google/Facebook/Amazon cartelized US Internet start-up financing;
  25. 2018: Rejecting the Google School of No-Antitrust, U. Chicago Conf. White Paper
  26. 2018: How Americans lost their broad legal rights to privacy;
  27. 2018: The estimation of the huge hidden costs of U.S. Internet industrial policy;
  28. 2018: How US Internet policy creates anticompetitive asymmetric accountability;
  29. 2018: How US Internet policy causes market failure to protect consumer welfare;
  30. 2018: How online network effects are exponentially more powerful than offline’s.

Private Sector Background

From 2006-2018, Cleland was President of Precursor LLC, an Internet change research consultancy that served Fortune 100 companies in six industries; and author of the widely-read PrecursorBlog, publishing his Internet change research findings on Internet competition, policy, and unaccountability.

An Internet expert’s expert, Precursor LLC helped corporate clients anticipate and navigate Internet changes to better exploit emerging opportunities and guard against emergent risks.

Its specialty was original thinking in organizing chaos, by bringing clarity of thought and applying framework analysis to big complex internet competition, policy and unaccountability problems and issues before others.

During that same period, Cleland also served as Chairman of NetCompetition®, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.

From 2000-2005, Cleland served institutional investors as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Precursor Group Inc. He founded and co-built the Precursor Group Broker Dealer from scratch to the #1 Institutional Investor-recognized independent research firm in communications in four years.

The firm served most of the top investment institutions in the U.S., including 39 of the top 50. At that time and in that role, Cleland was well-known as one of the most-widely quoted and interviewed analysts in the United States.

Overall Cleland has thirteen years' experience in the institutional investment business including working for the Schwab Washington Research Group and then Legg Mason from 1993-1999.

Public Service Background

Scott Cleland served as a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy for six years in the W. Bush Administration and six years in the Obama Administration.

In 2002, Cleland conceived and was the Founding Chairman of the Investorside Research Association, the first and only association of independent research firms serving investors. Also, in 2002, Institutional Investor Magazine called Cleland "the de facto spokesperson for the independent research community."

He was the lead source and primary analyst for Hedrick Smith's Emmy Award winning PBS Frontline Special, "The Wall Street Fix." Immediately following the surprise announcement of Enron's bankruptcy, Cleland was the first analyst asked to testify before Congress to explain how its then near record corporate fraud could happen.

Scott Cleland's career as a public servant concluded in 1992 as the Deputy United States Coordinator for Communication and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State, serving President H. W. Bush.

Previously, Cleland served as a Senior Policy Advisor for Legislative Affairs to the then Secretary of State James A. Baker III. He received the Superior Honor Award for his role as the lead congressional briefer to Secretary Baker on all foreign policy matters during the first Gulf War and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. Prior to that, he served as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Department of Treasury and as a Budget Examiner for OMB in the U.S. Executive Office of the President.


Scott Cleland earned a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 and a BA in Political Science from Kalamazoo College in 1982. In 2000, Cleland earned Kalamazoo College's Distinguished Achievement Award.

Selected Media

  • Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News, "Google reportedly strengthens its Communist China ties," 8-1-18
  • Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, "The Five Spot Interview with Scott Cleland," 8-13-18
  • Ali Velshi, MSNBC, "Facebook Knows a Lot About You But Google Knows Lots More," 4-30-18
  • Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News, "Is Google Censoring Free Speech?," 8-16-17
  • The Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio, "AT&T's Proposed Acquisition of Time Warner," 10-25-16
  • The Digital Post (EU), "Search + Android + Chrome = Google's Gatekeeper Inner-net Regime", 2-29-16
  • The Verge, "Internet providers prepare for war with FCC over expansion of net neutrality", 2-5-15
  • San Jose Mercury News, "Google to enter the wireless business", 1-22-15
  • CNBC/Nightly Business Report, "President Obama urges FCC reclassification of broadband Internet as a utility", 11-10-14
  • The Blaze, "Glenn Beck talks to Author Scott Cleland on Google & his book 'Search & Destroy'" 1-13-14
  • CBS Evening News, "Google Surveillance Far Surpasses the NSA," 6-11-13
  • The New York Times, "Google Concedes That Drive-by Prying Violated Privacy," " 3-13-13
  • The Diane Rehm Show, NPR,"FCC's Proposal for Nationwide Wireless Network," 2-5-13
  • The Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio, "The Future of Landline Phones," 12-6-12
  • Managing IP Magazine, "Opinion: Google is waging war on IP law," 8-9-12
  • Fox News, "Breaking down Google Privacy Issue," Justice with Judge Jeanine, 7-10-12
  • Bloomberg West, Bloomberg TV, "EU May Rule Google Monopoly, Sanction Firm," 3-1-12
  • C-SPAN, "The Communicators: Scott Cleland on Google's Senate Antitrust Hearing," 9-23-11
  • Fox News, "Can You Trust Google?," Fox and Friends, 5-9-11
  •, "Scott Cleland's new book details why Google can't be trusted," 5-4-11
  • Investors Business Daily, "When Analysts Look Over Their Shoulders," Brian Deagon, 12-24-10
  • USAToday, "Google Takes Issue with Vocal Critics Gary Reback, Scott Cleland," 12-3-10
  • CNBC Street Signs, "Get Ready for Google TV," 8-18-10
  • CSPAN,"The Communicators: Scott Cleland & Markham Erickson on Net Neutrality," 12-4-09
  • Investors Business Daily; "Q&A Scott Cleland: Google Big Beneficiary of Lobbying" 9-12-08
  • Smart Money Magazine, "Side Effects" Eric Savitz, 8-06
  • PBS Frontline Special, "The Wall Street Fix," Produced by Hedrick Smith, 5-8-03
  • Fortune Magazine, "Calling WorldCom's Woes," Stephanie Mehta, 7-22-02
  • National Journal, "The Profits of Being Less Clueless," W. John Moore, 9-16-00

Selected Op-Eds

  • New Europe, "How EU Amazon Antitrust Probe Spotlights Amazon as an Unlevel Playing Field." 10-11-18
  • The Daily Caller, "There Is A Solid Conservative Antitrust Case Against Alphabet-Google." 1-19-18
  • The Daily Caller, "Treat The Cause, Not Symptoms, Of Google & Facebook's Election Unaccountability," 11-3-17
  • BuzzFeed News, "The Power of Facebook, Google and Amazon Is An Issue For the Left And Right, 9-7-17
  • The Hill, "Internet giants, not broadband providers are the top threat to consumers, 5-3-17
  • The Australian, "Google Out to Steal From Australians" 3-17-17
  • Daily Caller, "How Internet Commons Policies Lessen Growth, Jobs and Security,” 11-28-16
  • New Europe, "Why Google Can't Criticize EU Much for Ruling it Dominant & Anticompetitive", 2-26-16
  • The Daily Caller, "America's Upside Down Cyber-Priorities," 8-17-15
  • The Daily Caller, "The FCC's Title II Trifecta Gamble," 7-13-15
  • The Daily Caller, "How America Protects National Champion Google in EU," 3-5-15
  • The Daily Caller, "Who Pays for Net Neutrality?" 12-3-14
  • The Daily Caller, "Online Video Competition's Tipping Point Just Tipped," 4-8-14
  • The Daily Caller, "The de-Americanization of the Internet," 11-19-13
  • The Daily Caller, "New U.S. spectrum policy has big problems," 6-19-13
  • The Daily Caller, "Obsolete Privacy Law," 1-22-13
  • The Hill, "Courts, not FTC, Should Decide on Google Practices," 12-10-12
  • Politico, LTE on Google Politicization of antitrust review, 10-16-12
  • The Daily Caller, "US Government's wasteful hoarding & rationing of spectrum" 9-7-12
  • The Daily Caller, "Why U.S. Communications Law is Obsolete," 6-25-12
  • The Wall Street Journal, LTE -- Google and Microsoft cases are Different, 4-29-12
  • Forbes CIO Network, "Seven Ways the World is Changing the Internet," 1-11-12
  • Forbes CIO Network, "Obsolete Television Law Needs Modernization" 1-4-12
  • The Huffington Post, "Big Brother Inc.," 5-23-11
  • The Seattle Times, "Wake Up to Google's Threat to Journalism" 2-6-09
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Googleopoly Darkens the Future of Innovation" 11-27-08
  • The Washington Times, "The Ultimate Internet Gatekeeper" 9-30-07
  • The Washington Times, "America's Unique Internet Success" 2-1-07
  • The Financial Times, "Follow the Money to Wall Street's Big Secret" 11-8-02

Book: Search & Destroy
Why You Can't Trust Google Inc.

Book: Search & Destroy - Why You Can't Trust Google Inc.

This is the other side of the Google story—the unauthorized book that Google does not want you to read. In Search & Destroy, Google expert Scott Cleland, shows that the world's most powerful company is not who it pretends to be.

Google pretends to be a harmless lamb, but chose a full-size model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex as its mascot. Beware the T-Rex in sheep's clothing.

Google has acquired far more information, both public and private, and has invented more ways to use it, than anyone in history. Information is power, and in Google's case, it's the power to influence and control virtually everything the Internet touches.

Learn More

Congressional Testimony

  • House Judiciary Competition Subcommittee, 9-16-10, Hearing on "Competition in the Evolving Digital Marketplace," "The Evolving Competition Digital Dichotomy & Why Googleopoly is the Main Antitrust Event"
  • Joint House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee, 6-18-09, Joint Hearing on Behavioral Advertising, "Why A Consumer-Driven, Technology/Competition-Neutral, Privacy Framework Is Superior to a Default ‘Finders Keepers Losers Weepers' Privacy Framework"
  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Internet Hearing, 9-17-08, "The Blind Eye to Privacy Law Arbitrage by Google -- Broadly Threatens Respect for Privacy"
  • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee On Antitrust, 9-27-07, "Google-DoubleClick Merger and the Online Advertising Industry," "The Google-DoubleClick Anti-competitive Case"
  • Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, 10-19-05, "Video and Telecom Competition is Increasingly Vibrant and Here to Stay, Recommendations on Telecom Reform Legislation"
  • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, 4-19-05, "Telecom Mergers in a Techcom World: How Antitrust Must Adapt to the Techcom Future"
  • Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, 2-11-04, Oversight Hearing, "Cable Competition - Increasing Price; Increasing Value?"
  • Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, 6-18-03, Oversight Hearing, "NewsCorp/Hughes Proposed Merger"
  • House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, June 18, 2003, 6-16-03, "Mutual Funds Integrity and Fee Transparency Act of 2003"
  • House Financial Services Oversight Subcommittee, 3-21-02, "Global Crossing's Bankruptcy: A Window Into a Broken System of Protecting Investors"
  • Senate Commerce Committee, Panel on Consumer Affairs, 12-18-01, Hearing on Enron Bankruptcy, "Conflicts of Interest Are Eroding the Market's Integrity and Internal Controls"
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, 6-14-01, "Who's Looking Out for Investors?"
  • House Judiciary Committee, June 5, 2001, 6-5-01 Oversight Hearing, "House Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001"
  • House Judiciary Committee, 7-18-00, Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1686, the "Internet Freedom Act" and H.R. 1685, the "Internet Growth and Development Act of 1999"
  • House Judiciary Committee, 6-30-99, House Internet Freedom Act and Internet Growth, Development Act of 1999
  • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition, 5-19-98, Telephone Industry Consolidation