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Knowledge for everyone

Editor's note: Earlier today, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, spoke to a crowd at Paris's Sciences Po about innovation, Google's commitment to Europe and our ongoing collaboration with journalists and publishers, the Digital News Initiative. His speech is pasted in full below.

Bonjour. Thank you for coming. And thank you to Bruno and the Board of Sciences Po for hosting me today. It’s an honour to be here.

I have visited Paris many times. I have a great love of France - I even studied French for two years in high school! My affinity for this country, for this city, for your way of life, is strong, which is why I felt an unshakeable solidarity with you watching the senseless events of a few months ago. I want you to know that as you recover and rebuild, Google stands with you.

This is my first visit to Paris as CEO of Google, and also my first time here at Sciences Po. But it’s not Google’s first time in this room. Six years ago, our chairman, Eric Schmidt, stood right here to outline a series of major investments in France. I’m glad to say that those investments - in our Paris R+D centre, and in the Google Cultural Institute - are thriving.

Those investments - and others we have made since - further our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. The Internet has transformed the way we work and learn and live - enabling people to connect with loved ones, educate themselves, start a business, explore the world.
I believe in the incredibly empowering and democratizing effect of putting knowledge in the hands of everyone, everywhere.

That belief is what drives us to fulfill our mission. And it’s a belief we share with France. Yet, four billion of the world’s seven billion population either can’t access the Internet or have much poorer experiences when they get online.

So we still have much work to do.

We’re committed to making knowledge available to more people, no matter where they may be, no matter what language they speak, no matter how they are accessing the Internet. We’re committed to building for everyone.

Google in France

What we’ve learned over the years is that in order to build for everyone, we must focus on partnership. We are proud of our relationship with France. We now have a total of 700 Googlers here--and we’re growing. Our R&D Center has 130 engineers working on Chrome for Mobile and on our YouTube recommendation engine.

We have established the Google Cultural Institute here in Paris: they create amazing tools to help cultural organisations bring their treasures online. In five years, it has grown to include the collections of more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions around the world, including 50 French partners like the Musee d’Orsay and Versailles.

Now, there’s no real substitute for seeing Vigee Le Brun’s Marie Antoinette up close… but for a lot of people that’s just not possible. We want to help them experience and be inspired by the amazing things you have to offer here in France, at virtually no cost. What would Marie Antoinette have thought of that?

One of our engineers here in Paris created Cardboard - an effort to democratize virtual reality. It’s a Virtual Reality viewer costing just a few Euros. Schoolchildren around the world can now make virtual expeditions to places they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to go - to climb Mont Blanc, or go on stage at the Paris Ballet.

Explore Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, Candide Thovex, and Google Maps

Explore Mont Blanc with Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, Candide Thovex, and Google Maps

But it’s not just our own projects we’re investing in. Google is more committed than ever to investing in France by helping build an environment where everyone can bring their great ideas to life.

Digital skills

As the French economy becomes more and more digital, it also gets stronger and stronger. The opportunity is huge: according to McKinsey, if French companies speed up their transition to digital, France can add 100 billion euros a year to GDP by 2020.

Digital skills are vital. We’ve partnered with Chambers of Commerce across France to train small business in digital skills. So far, we've trained more than 50,000 SMBs through our Google Pour les Pros program. 

Today I am delighted to announce that we’re expanding our program in France to help not just SMBs, but also young job-seekers, students and teachers, as well as those who are socially and digitally disadvantaged. 

We’ve set ourselves an ambitious target: to train 200,000 people in France by the end of 2016. We will work with local nonprofits, universities, chambers of commerce and incubators to meet our goal. Through Google.org, we will work with Emmaüs Connect to create a program to help disadvantaged people get the digital skills they need.

And to encourage entrepreneurship, we have been working for three years with NUMA - the first and largest French startup space. I’m delighted to announce that we are renewing our partnership, with an additional investment of 1 million Euros.

The importance of partnership 

Google works hard to be a growth engine. A key part of our role is to create tools that others can use, to create and share and spread knowledge themselves. For everyone, by everyone. 

Our partners here are doing amazing work - using technology to make life better for people in France and around the world.

Take Android, for example - it can be used by any handset manufacturer, enabling small players to compete with the bigger ones. Wiko is a French company that is now the second biggest supplier of phones in France, after Samsung. And according to recent research, the growth in mobile phone usage has created more than 170,000 jobs for app developers in France. 

Or take YouTube: anyone can create something that everyone can see. Sounds simple, but it’s a profound change in the way we communicate and share with each other.

Just ask French creators like EnjoyPhoenix, who started as a teenager, offering beauty tips for girls. And now has 2.2 million subscribers… and is working with global French brands like L’Oreal. Just one of a growing list of French creators using YouTube to build a following and reach a worldwide audience.

Partnering with publishers

I have a strong personal connection to journalism: I grew up in a house in India, where “access to information” meant the newspaper. I would get so excited as a kid to get my hands on the paper. In my case, it was The Hindu. It would arrive, and my dad got to read it first. And then my grandfather. I’d wait patiently for my turn … and then devour it. It taught me the true value of information. In fact, it was one of my main motivators for getting my first job--finally I’d get to read the paper first!

So, I care deeply about journalism. And Google cares deeply about journalism - yes, because of the crucial role it plays in democratic society, ensuring the spread of knowledge and the free flow of information. But also because the value of our services, like search, is directly related to having a rich and sustainable knowledge ecosystem.

Put simply, our futures are tied together. So we ought to be good partners. But over the last few years, in discussion with news publishers, we’ve heard that we can do better. So, we’ve been consulting and working closely together to find better ways to collaborate.

Here in France, we have a history of this kind of collaboration. In 2013 Google and news publishers launched the French Innovation Fund--60 million Euros--to promote innovation and help develop new business models.

Over the last year we have built on that with the Digital News Initiative - a collaboration between Google and news publishers across Europe. We are committed to ongoing discussion between the tech and news sectors. To promote innovation in digital journalism. And play our part in building a more sustainable news ecosystem. 

The DNI started in April last year with 11 founding partners. Today, more than 160 news organisations across Europe participate in the DNI. In France, Les Echos was a founding member - and many others have joined.

But let me be clear: participating in the Digital News Initiative is not about buying into Google’s worldview. It is about discussion, debate, and getting things done together. It’s open to everyone involved in news in Europe. 

DNI Innovation Fund

First, the DNI European Innovation Fund. Last April we announced we had set aside 150 million euros to help stimulate innovation in digital journalism, which we’ll make available to fund projects over the next three years.

The aim is to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere, to give news organisations of all sizes the space to try new things and get projects off the drawing board and into production.

In October, we opened up the first application round… and it’s clear the appetite for innovation in news is huge.

Of course, you can’t have a conversation about great content and partnership without addressing the importance of the publishing industry and journalism. It’s great to be partnering on today’s event with the Sciences Po Journalism School and with the Global Editors Network, based here in Paris.

And I hope the few announcements I am about to make encourage you all to join us. 

Today, I’m pleased to announce that the DNI Innovation Fund will be offering 27 million euros to 128 projects in 23 countries across Europe. 

digital news initiative infographic

The funding will go to a wide variety of organizations - from small startups to large, established news players. Their projects have been wonderfully diverse, ranging from automated content personalization and robot journalism, to hoax busting apps and tools to verify social media in real-time reporting... and much more besides!

This is just the first round. We received a huge number of applications--a great sign!--and we want to keep the momentum going. The next round will open before the summer.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Second, I want to tell you about the progress we are making on the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages project. This project was born out of conversations with publishers in Europe and around the world - we’re now working with hundreds of publishers, social networks, analytics groups, ad networks and more.

Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the way we access information, and today people consume a tremendous amount of news on their phones. But every time a webpage takes too long to load, publishers risk losing a reader. We want the mobile Web to live up to its potential -- to make it great for everyone, so they can quickly and easily get to the high-quality journalism you are producing.

We’re doing that by building AMP HTML together with the industry - which allows sites to build light-weight versions of pages that will load instantaneously on mobile. It means the same code works across multiple platforms, apps, browsers and devices. It supports a wide choice of ad servers and formats, as well as news sites which use paywalls. And through analytics and reporting - it will help publishers craft the best content and cultivate more loyal readers.

I believe the project has huge potential and today, I’m excited to announce that Accelerated Mobile Pages are now live in Google’s mobile search.

Here’s what it looks like: a search carousel surfacing more news content - beautifully and instantly. Loading 4 times faster, using 10 times less data.

AMP demo GIF

I’m delighted that we have a number of French publishers going live in AMP today - including TF1, Les Echos, Ouest France and Vingt Minutes - and hundreds of partners globally. This is a priority project for Google and for me.

Project Shield

Third: I want to tell you about an initiative called Project Shield. There are times when news content is impossible to get to--NOT because the page loads slowly, but because it’s been subject to an attack.

For example, someone doesn’t like what you are reporting and initiates what’s called a Distributed Denial of Service - or DDoS - attack to destabilize your website and make it hard for people to read your content. People come to your site, urgently needing information, and instead they find… nothing.

This goes well beyond slow scrolling and loading of pages. It’s an attack on the very essence of what you do, and it is happening all the time. For less than 100 Euros, someone who disagrees with what a journalist is reporting can purchase a DDoS attack online, which simply directs hundreds of thousands of compromised computers to visit that news site, crashing it.

Two years ago Google Ideas (now known as Jigsaw) asked: “Google has pretty great DDoS protection - what if we could put independent news sites behind that protection, regardless of where they are hosted?”

That idea turned into Project Shield. Shield works by using a technology called a reverse proxy, which lets Google intercept bad traffic before it reaches your server, providing a “shield” against would-be attackers.

I am happy to announce today that we will be offering Project Shield to all the world’s independent news organizations. For free. We hope that in the future even the smallest news organizations will be able to report the news without the fear of being taken down by digital attacks.

All of these efforts represent the ways we are working with your country, with your industry to fulfill our mission, and hopefully help you fulfill yours. By bringing people more and better information in more and better ways, you empower them. You allow them to create and connect and share, bringing them into the embrace of the powerful global community that only technology has made possible. 

You give them knowledge. Nothing can be more valuable than that.

That, in the end, defines everything we stand for: we believe deeply in spreading knowledge to make life better for everyone. It’s at the heart of Google’s mission, it is the mission of publishers and journalists, it is in DNA of France itself. I am personally committed to this, and I look forward to working with you all to get it done.

Merci beaucoup!