Editor’s Note: Today the CEOs of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are testifying before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law. Read our CEO Sundar Pichai’s opening testimony below, describing how Google’s free products are helpful to people and small businesses, and how competition inspires us to innovate and create better products for everyone.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, and members of the Subcommittee. Before I start, I know this hearing was delayed because of the ceremonies to honor the life of your colleague, Representative John Lewis. Because of his courage, this world is a better place. He’ll be deeply missed.
At its heart, a discussion about competition is a discussion about opportunity. This has never been more important, as the global pandemic poses dual challenges to our health and our economy.
Expanding access to opportunity through technology is personal to me. I didn’t have much access to a computer growing up in India. So you can imagine my amazement when I arrived in the U.S. for graduate school and saw an entire lab of computers to use whenever I wanted.
Accessing the internet for the first time set me on a path to bring technology to as many people as possible. It inspired me to build Google’s first browser, Chrome. I’m proud that 11 years later, so many people experience the web through Chrome, for free.
Google takes pride in the number of people who choose our products; we’re even prouder of what they do with them … from the 140 million students and teachers using G Suite for Education to stay connected during the pandemic ... to the 5 million Americans gaining digital skills through Grow with Google … to all the people who turn to Google for help, from finding the fastest route home to learning how to cook a new dish on YouTube.
Google’s work would not be possible without the long tradition of American innovation, and we’re proud to contribute to its future. We employ more than 75,000 people in the U.S. across 26 states. The Progressive Policy Institute estimated that in 2018 we invested more than $20 billion in the U.S., citing us as the largest capital investor in America that year, and one of the top five for the last three years.
One way we contribute is by building helpful products. Research found that free services like Search, Gmail, Maps, and Photos provide thousands of dollars a year in value to the average American. Many are small businesses using our digital tools to grow:
Stone Dimensions, a family-owned stone company in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, uses Google My Business to draw new customers.
Gil’s Appliances—a family-owned appliance store in Bristol, Rhode Island—credits Google Analytics with helping them reach customers online during the pandemic. Nearly one-third of small business owners say that without digital tools they would have had to close all or part of their business during COVID.
Another way we contribute is by being among the world’s biggest investors in research and development. At the end of 2019, our R&D spend had increased tenfold over 10 years, from $2.8 billion to $26 billion, and we’ve invested over $90 billion over the last five years. Our engineers are helping America remain a global leader in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and quantum computing.
Just as America’s technology leadership is not inevitable, Google’s continued success is not guaranteed. New competitors emerge every day, and today users have more access to information than ever before. Competition drives us to innovate, and it also leads to better products, lower prices and more choices for everyone. For example, competition helped lower online advertising costs by 40 percent over the last decade, with savings passed down to consumers.
Open platforms like Android also support the innovation of others. Using Android, thousands of mobile operators build and sell their own devices, without paying any licensing fees to us. This has enabled billions of consumers to afford cutting-edge smartphones, some for less than $50. Whether building tools for small businesses or platforms like Android, Google succeeds when others succeed.
Competition also sets higher standards for privacy and security. I’ve always believed that privacy is a universal right, and Google is committed to keeping your information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting you in control, and we’ve long supported the creation of comprehensive federal privacy laws.
I’ve never forgotten how access to technology and innovation changed the course of my life. Google aims to build products that increase access to opportunity for everyone—no matter where you live, what you believe, or how much money you earn.
We are committed to doing this responsibly—in partnership with lawmakers—to ensure every American has access to the incredible opportunity technology creates.