All too often, fast-moving, disruptive digital innovation is presented as the enemy of Europe’s enviable social system. The reality, according to a new study published this week in Paris by consultants Roland Berger, is that digital companies not only boost economic growth - they also increase worker satisfaction.

Launching the new Roland Berger Internet report
Berger studied 505 companies, all with more than 50 employees, classifying them in four categories by how much they use the Internet. Its study focused not on sexy Internet startups, but on traditional industries such as chemistry, energy or manufacturing. The conclusion was striking: new digital technologies are just as important in these traditional sectors as for high tech startups. The most “digital” grow six times faster than the “least digital”.

Given this finding, it is unsurprising that French companies sense the opportunity: some 57% interviewed put digital transformation as one of their medium term strategic priorities. Unfortunately, actions do not follow these intentions. Only 36% of French companies have a formal digital strategy and French corporate Internet engagement lags far behind French consumer use. While nearly six in 10 French people shopped online in 2013, only one French company in 10 sold online.

If more French companies embarked on the digital journey, Berger argues they would not only improve their performance - they also would please workers. Employees of the most digitally mature companies feel at least 50 percent more involved and happier in their professional life than those of the least matures ones. In a country famed for its quality of life, this is indeed an impressive finding!

Many countries, particularly small ones, face a similar dilemma - how to encourage local production in their own languages. Governments might suggest that the best response is regulation, to artificially require local language video content production. We believe this is neither justified nor effective.

The Internet encourages local content creation. In Israel, the creators of Tu-Ti-Tu, an Israeli animation studio specializing in shows for toddlers, tried to make it on TV for years without much success. Today, Tu-Ti-Tu is among the 100 most viewed channels globally on YouTube, and one of the 10 leading channels for family entertainment.

All told, YouTube captures more than a billion views each day. For content creators in a small country like Israel, the internet connects them to a global audience, overcoming physical barriers.

Here, we’ve partnered with the Israeli Film and TV Producers Association and with the Ministry of Economy to run Made for Web - a celebration of Israeli content online.

It’s a competition for online video content. Winners are rewarded with cash prizes and a trip to the YouTube Space in London. Last year, there were more than 150 innovative, funny and serious submissions, ranging from travel advice by a three year old child, to an action series for gamers. Winners took a visit to the YouTube space in London, which they later described as “heaven for video creators.”

This year, we’re going to be running a workshop on October 29 in Tel Aviv, where Israeli creators can meet international and local speakers and share best practices. Matthew Clarke of Maker Studio and Jake Roper from Vsauce will be there. Most important, Made for Web II is now open for submissions. Apply by October 31st - and create some more great Hebrew language video.

For the past five years, an economic meltdown has plunged Greece into crisis. Amid the the rubble, the country’s economic motor more than ever has become tourism. It now accounts 17% of GDP, and powered by the Internet, is demonstrating, a high potential for growth. Our "Grow Greek Tourism Online” program, launched, in partnership with the Minister of Tourism, the National Tourism Board and the Federation of Tourism Enterprises, allows B&Bs, neighborhood restaurants and even specialty ice cream shops and bars to use the Internet and reach new customers.

The program provides tourism entrepreneurs with digital skills and tools to grow their business during and beyond Greece’s short summer tourism season. About 70 percent of the country's tourism arrivals take place between June and September. Although Greece's islands and beaches are delightful in spring and autumn, only about 17 percent of tourists come in May, October and November. “Now, more than ever, it is possible to gradually extend the tourist season. Through web partnerships and the use of innovative tools, we make a further step in this direction," said Olga Kefalogianni, the Minister of Tourism.

The opportunity is significant: According to recent research by Oxford Economics, an increase in the online activities of the Greek tourism industry can grow Greece’s GDP by 3% and create 100K new jobs.

As a first step, we kicked off the program in Crete (which accounts for 15 percent of the country’s tourism business), hosting events for small and medium sized businesses in the island’s two largest cities, Chania and Heraklion. More than 600 companies participated. Greece’s National Tourism Board EOT launched a campaign for Crete as an autumn tourism destination on their +Page with over 1.4 million followers. “Everyone involved in tourism must take advantage of the web." said EOT’s General Secretary, Panos Livadas. The President of the Federation of Tourism Enterprises Andreas Andreadis summed up the project best: "That’s a strong bright light which should help power Greece out of its long economic gloom.”

Last week, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp sent an open letter to the European Commission complaining about Google. We wanted to share our perspective so you can judge the arguments on their merits.

News Corp:
“The Internet should be a canvas for freedom of expression and for high quality content of enduring value.”

We agree about free expression and the importance of high quality content. Access to information in any given country, particularly news content, used to be controlled by a relatively small number of media organizations. Today, people have far greater choice. That has had a profound impact on newspapers, who face much stiffer competition for people’s attention and for advertising Euros.

Google has worked hard to help publishers succeed online -- both in terms of generating new audiences and also increasing their digital revenues. Our search products drive over 10 billion clicks a month to 60,000 publishers’ websites, and we share billions of dollars annually with advertising publishing partners. We’ve also created a digital store on Android -- Google Play -- that lets news publishers offer their publications for purchase or subscription. We hope this will also increase their audience and digital revenues. In addition, we invest in initiatives like Google’s Journalism Fellowships, and help train thousands of journalists through our Google for Media program.

News Corp:
Google is a “platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks” and “a company that boasts about its ability to track traffic [but] chooses to ignore the unlawful and unsavoury content that surfaces after the simplest of searches”

Google has done more than almost any other company to help tackle online piracy.

  • Search: In 2013 we removed 222 million web pages from Google Search due to copyright infringement. The average take-down time is now just six hours. And we downgrade websites that regularly violate copyright in our search rankings.
  • Video: We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars in innovative technology -- called ContentID -- to tackle piracy on YouTube.

Google is also an industry leader in combating child sexual abuse imagery online. We use hashing technology to remove illegal imagery from all our products and from the search index. We have safe modes for both Search and YouTube that filter out inappropriate content. And we are committed to protecting our users’ security. It’s why we remove malware from our search results and other products, and protect more than 1 billion users every day from phishing and malware with our Safe Browsing warnings.

News Corp:
Google’s “power” makes it hard for people to “access information independently and meaningfully.” Google is “willing to exploit [its] dominant market position to stifle competition.

With the Internet, people enjoy greater choice than ever before -- and because the competition is just one click away online, barriers to switching are very, very low. Google is of course very popular in Europe, but we are not the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim.

  • Direct traffic: Huge numbers of readers go direct to news sites such as the or
  • New ways to access information: As The Economist reported last week “mobile devices have changed the way people travel the Internet. Users now prefer apps (self contained programmes on smartphones) to websites’ home pages”. In this world Google Search is an app alongside many others. The same article adds “the rise of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest … have become an important navigation system for people looking for content across the Web”. It’s why many newspapers get an increasing number of referrals from Facebook and Twitter.
  • Search competition: Within search Google faces a lot of competition: including Amazon for product search; Kayak and Expedia for flights; and Yelp and TripAdvisor for local information. While companies like Expedia and Yelp object to us providing direct answers to users' questions, their revenues, profit and traffic from Google continue to grow. 
And when it comes to our answers versus other websites, Larry Page, our co-founder, has always believed that the perfect search engine would "understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want."  Initially, ten blue links were the best answer we could give.  But now we have the ability to provide direct answers to users' queries, which is much quicker and easier for them. If you are searching for the weather, you want the weather where you are, on the results page, not just links to weather sites.  Or directions: if your query is "where is the nearest pharmacy?", you want a map with directions, not just links to other sites.  This is especially important on mobile where screens are smaller and typing is harder.

News Corp:
“Sudden changes are made to the ranking and display of Google search results, which inevitably maximise income for Google and yet punish small companies that have become dependent on Google for their livelihood.”

Of course we regularly change our algorithms -- we make over 500 changes a year.  But these changes are all about improving the user experience, not punishing small companies.  Indeed, it's well documented that the highest-profile change to our search ranking, called “Panda”, actually reduced our advertising revenue. As Yelp, another complainant to the EC, said on a recent earnings call: “Where we have the largest communities in the U.S., we’ve seen actually an uptick as a result of the recent Google algorithmic change. They’re constantly making changes and alterations ... and most of that really, on a day-to-day basis, doesn’t have a material effect”.

News Corp:
“Google has developed a "certification" process for Android-related products which allows it to delay or deny content companies and other businesses access to the mobile operating system, while giving itseIf the freedom to develop competing products.”

Android is an open-source operating system that can be used free-of-charge by anyone. You don’t need Google’s permission. If hardware manufacturers want to offer applications via Google Play, our digital apps store, we simply ask that they meet a minimum technical standard to ensure these apps run smoothly and securely across a range of Android-powered devices. This is good for users and for app developers.  Many manufacturers, including Amazon and Nokia, choose to install their own apps stores on their Android-based devices.

News Corp:
“Google is commodifying the audience of specialist publishers and limiting their ability to generate advertising revenue. Data aggregators attempt to sell audiences at a steep discount to the original source, for example, access to 75 per cent of The Wall Street Journal demographic at 25 per cent of the price, thus undermining the business model of the content creator.”

When selling their ad space, publishers can decide which partners they work with, who can buy ads on their website, and who can reach their audiences. Indeed, in a recent press release to investors, News Corp explained that it had created a private advertising exchange to limit the partners it works with to prevent exactly this kind of commoditization. Robert Thomson, News Corp’s CEO, said at the time: “The only way to reach the world’s greatest content and the most prestigious and lucrative audiences is directly through our digital properties. Third parties are no longer invited to the party”. Google works with publishers to protect their content and maximize their advertising revenues.

News Corp:
“Google routinely displays YouTube results at the top of its search pages, even if YouTube is not the original source of that content.”

A simple Google search for “videos of Robert Thomson News Corp” shows content from the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and Nasdaq ranked above anything from YouTube. We only show YouTube results when they’re relevant to a search query.

News Corp:
"The shining vision of Google's founders has been replaced by a cynical management..."

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are still very much at the helm of Google -- Larry is CEO and both remain the inspiration behind our next generation of big bets... self-driving cars, Loon, Fiber and more.

News Corp:
“Undermining the basic business model of professional content creators will lead to a less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society … the intemperate trends we are already seeing in much of Europe will proliferate.”

People probably have enough evidence to judge that one for themselves :)

The Internet is growing fast and so is demand for our services, from search to Gmail and YouTube. In order to keep up with this growth, we are announcing a new EUR600 million investment over the next four years to build a new data centre in Eemshaven, the Netherlands.

Groundbreaking at our new data centre site in the Eemshaven with, on the right, Dutch Economics Minister Henk Kamp
At a time of high unemployment throughout Europe, the project promises a welcome infusion of jobs. Construction will provide work for more than 1000 workers. We expect to start initial operations in the first half of 2016 and to be fully operational by the end of 2017. By then, the centre will create employment for more than 150 people in a range of full-time and contractor roles. The jobs do not require phds in computer science; they include IT technicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, catering, facilities and security staff.

The new Dutch data centre will benefit from the latest designs in cooling and electrical technology. It will be free-cooled - taking advantage of natural assets like cool air and grey water to keep our servers cool. Our data centers use 50% less energy than a typical datacenter - and our intention is to run this new facility on renewable energy.

This will be Google’s fourth hyper efficient facility in Europe. Importantly, demand for Internet services remains so strong that the new building does not mean a reduction in expansion elsewhere. Our expansion will continue in Dublin in Ireland, in Hamina in Finland, and in St. Ghislain in Belgium. Our existing rented datacenter facility in Eemshaven also will continue to operate.

Since our investment in our first European datacenter back in 2007, we have been on the lookout for supportive communities with the necessary resources to support large data centers. The required ingredients are land, workforce, networking, a choice of power and other utilities including renewable energy supplies.

It’s much more efficient to build a few large facilities than many small ones. Eemshaven enjoys a direct cable connection to two major European Internet hubs, London and Amsterdam. In the Eemshaven, we've found a great community in a great location that meets the needs to become a backbone for the expanding Internet.

Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow became interested in addressing the global food crisis after learning about the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. When a gardening project went awry, they discovered a naturally occurring bacteria in soil called Diazotroph. The girls determined that the bacteria could be used to speed up the the germination process of certain crops, like barley and oats, by 50 percent, potentially helping fulfill the rising demand for food worldwide. Oh—and they’re 16 years old.

Today, Ciara, Émer and Sophie were named the Grand Prize Winner and the 15-16 age category winners of our fourth annual Google Science Fair. They are some of thousands of students ages 13-18 who dared to ask tough questions like: How can we stop cyberbullying? How can I help my grandfather who has Alzheimer's from wandering out of bed at night? How can we protect the environment? And then they actually went out and answered them.

From thousands of submissions from 90+ countries, our panel of esteemed judges selected 18 finalists representing nine countries—Australia, Canada, France, India, Russia, U.K., Ukraine and the U.S.—who spent today impressing Googlers and local school students at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. In addition to our Grand Prize Winners, the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair are:
  • 13-14 age category: Mihir Garimella (Pennsylvania, USA) for his project FlyBot: Mimicking Fruit Fly Response Patterns for Threat Evasion. Like many boys his age, Mihir is fascinated with robots. But he took it to the next level and actually built a flying robot, much like the ones used in search and rescue missions, that was inspired by the way fruit flies detect and respond to threats. Mihir is also the winner of the very first Computer Science award, sponsored by Google.
  • 17-18 age category: Hayley Todesco (Alberta, Canada) for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors. Hayley became deeply interested in the environment after watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her project uses a sustainable and efficient method to break down pollutant substances and toxins found in tailing ponds water in her hometown, a hub of the oil sands industry.
  • The Scientific American Science in Action award: Kenneth Shinozuka (Brooklyn, New York) for his wearable sensors project. Kenneth was inspired by his grandfather and hopes to help others around the world dealing with Alzheimer's. The Scientific American award is given to a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge.
  • Voter’s Choice award: Arsh Dilbagi (India) for his project Talk, which enables people with speech difficulties to communicate by simply exhaling.
As the Grand Prize winners, Ciara, Émer and Sophie receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands provided by National Geographic, a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a personalized LEGO prize provided by LEGO Education and the chance to participate in astronaut training at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in the Mojave desert.

Thanks to all of our young finalists and to everyone who participated in this year’s Google Science Fair. We started the Science Fair to inspire scientific exploration among young people and celebrate the next generation of scientist and engineers. And every year we end up amazed by how much you inspire us. So, keep dreaming, creating and asking questions. We look forward to hearing the answers.

At Google, we like to experiment. Today we are experimenting with a guest blogpost from the UK innovation charity Nesta. Although we had no involvement in this study of how companies best can benefit from the information age, we think it offers a valuable contribution on Europe’s skills debate and wanted to share the conclusions.

We are living in the middle of a data explosion – a rich opportunity, but also a much
misunderstood one. In previous research, we showed that businesses which analyse their data intensively become 10% more productive than their average competitor. By contrast, collecting data on its own has little impact on performance.

Our newly published research, ModelWorkers, the first report in a project in collaboration with Creative Skillset and The Royal Statistical Society, looks at the data skills that businesses need to produce these impacts.

Model Workers
Interviews with 45 experts in UK data-driven companies reveal that all types of companies are converging into the ‘big data’ space. from pharmaceutical giants to small retailers and manufacturers. All are all experimenting with bigger, messier and faster data, and catching up with leading players in software, advertising, games and finance.

As a result, everyone is looking for the same ‘perfect data analyst’, or ‘data scientist’: a creative worker with analytical, coding and business skills, team working and charisma. These people are hard to find. Four out of five of the companies we interviewed say they struggle to find data scientists.

In Model Workers we identify interventions to remove these shortages. They include up-skilling established professionals such as statisticians, programmers and social scientists, developing vocational training in universities and encouraging more crossover between computer science, statistics and business disciplines. We also need to build up communities of data practice, and develop training and professional standards. Policymakers should make it easier for foreign students to work in Europe after completing data analysis courses.

In the longer term we need to improve the teaching of maths at schools, and change false perceptions of data work as boring and dull. Some of the most exciting and creative jobs across the economy today – from developing new games to discovering new drugs – are based on data, and we need to make sure everyone is aware of this crucial trend.