Dec 12, 2018

Google's Pichai on antitrust: There's more international competition than ever

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo Illustration: Axios Visuals

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spent most of his three hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday dealing with allegations of conservative bias, though he also got pushed on the company's policies on privacy and China.

During an interview with Axios following his interrogation, Pichai discussed his thoughts on whether Google might need to be broken up, pointing to the level of antitrust competition from large global companies and well-funded startups.

"There's a lot of competition amongst big companies. For the first time, I think there is more international competition than ever before, and I think that's going to hold true."
"I do see a lot of innovation happen, too, just coming into this week, reading the coverage. I think there's been IPOs potentially announced or being tracked of Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, Postmates and so on, which to me looks like innovation is, like, well and alive."

Scrutiny of Google: Pichai said he expects tougher scrutiny of his company and other tech giants is "here to stay."

"You want to be thoughtful about how you develop powerful technologies. And I think it’s important that more people than engineers are able to weigh in on these things.”
— Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in an interview with Axios

Basic research: He noted that companies like Google are needed at a time when the U.S. government is investing less in basic research, just as fields like AI and quantum computing are taking off.

  • "There are some advantages of big companies, which is we do invest for the long term in foundational technologies," he said. By contrast with the U.S., Pichai noted that China is investing big in AI and other areas.

Search in China: Pichai echoed his comments before Congress, saying that "right now, we have no plans to launch search in China, but we always feel compelled to explore."

  • Google, he said, is trying to balance the benefit of the information it could provide to Chinese citizens with the company's values around privacy and freedom of expression.
  • Earlier in the day, Pichai confirmed that at one point Google had more than 100 people working on Dragonfly, its project exploring what search could look like in China. That work, he told Axios, could also show up in other areas of Google's business.
  • "There are 100 million Chinese-language speakers outside of China, alone, for whom we can improve search quality," he said. "There are areas like education and health care where we may be able to help."

Go deeper: Pichai says Big Tech scrutiny is "here to stay"

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In photos: Life in the era of coronavirus across the U.S.

Cellist Jodi Beder performs a daily concert on her front porch in Mount Rainier, Maryland, to help people passing by and her neighbors cope with the outbreak. Photo: Andrew Caballero-ReynoldsE/AFP via Getty Images;

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. has grown from one on Jan. 21 to over 312,000 by early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins.

The big picture: Roughly 3/4 of the American population is on lockdown. From practicing social distancing to the shutdown of non-essential businesses, here's how Americans are coping with the massive upheaval the outbreak has brought, in photos.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,202,827 — Total deaths: 64,771 — Total recoveries: 246,886Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 312,076 — Total deaths: 8,496 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S. The global death toll has surpassed 64,700, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: The United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II will speak in a televised address on the coronavirus Sunday of the "disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all," per the BBC. The U.K. death toll rose 708 to 4,313 on Saturday — the fourth highest in the world.

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