Does Google's £1 Billion Post-Brexit Investment Show a Vote of Confidence to the UK?
Brexit has led the UK into a period of considerable political, social, and economic uncertainty. To the consolation of many, tech giant Google offered a vote of confidence by confirming plans to build a new, £1bn headquarters in London. The move is anticipated to generate 3,000 jobs by 2020, and will no doubt further anger E.U. members who could see this as an undue reward for a nation that wants to eat their cake and have it too.
The Plans and Promises
As it stands, Google plans to construct a 10-story high and 650,000 square foot complex situated alongside their new Kings Cross offices—currently home to 2,500 employees. This latest investment would increase its 4,000 UK employee figure to 7,000 employees. Predictably, given growing nationalist sentiment in the UK, Google released a statement asserting its intention to maintain a diverse and connected workforce.
"We do value how open and connected it is, and we can bring in talent from anywhere in the world, and we value those attributes, and we are optimistic that those will stay true over time." - Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google recently received a fair amount of criticism in the U.K. after stories surfaced around a rumored 3% tax rate. Nevertheless, Google seems to be extending an olive branch, bearing the promise of value and prosperity.
A Little Bit of Marketing Helps the Medicine Go Down
Google seems keen on helping the UK rise above their political embroilment. Google also announced they were offering British residents five free hours of digital skills training. One million British students will also be offered “virtual reality field trips.”
“Virtual reality can spark students’ imagination and help them learn about topics like how blood flows through the human body or the impact climate change is having on the Great Barrier Reef, in an engaging and immersive way.” – Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google is additionally offering face-to-face instruction in digital skills and personal mentoring in 100 cities and towns across the U.K.
Pichai went on to explain
"Our aim is to make sure that every individual and business in the U.K. has the support they need to make the most of online tools to innovate, compete and have fruitful careers in the digital age.”
There is, of course, a cynical take on the investment announcement and subsequent ones.
As it happens, the "we trust in London" campaign was devised well before Brexit, and is presumed by some to be a marketing ploy to pander to those embittered by the tax scandal. In fact, some may even question if investments of this size would spur future tax reductions. There is no evidence for either suspicion.
Skepticism aside, there is no denying this is news foretells tremendous opportunity.
Now for the Global View
If we look beyond the headlines, beyond job creation and intention, there is a more universal message being broadcast.
Both Brexit and the recent US election proved that TV experts, analysts, newspapers and opinions are fallible, in a disconcerting way. Google’s announcement stands diametrically opposed to the scare stories coming from legacy media outlets. Similarly, Apple is moving forward with a new London headquarters at Battersea Power Station. And Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan also announced they would be building new models in Sunderland.
These decisions run contrary to the opinions of many a pundit. Is it possible we are seeing a paradigm shift of epistemological proportions? One where knowledge and certainty springs from within rather than from up above?
Google plans to invest £1bn in a headquarters in London, where they project to create around 3,000 new jobs in the next four years. Their motives and their ends are the subject of scrutiny. Whatever the case, Google has restored faith to many in the face of uncertainty and unrest. Rather than Tweeting out their support, they’ve put their money where their mouth is.
In my opinion, this should be welcomed rather than ridiculed.
Are the biggest opportunities often delivered during periods of uncertainty?
What are your thoughts?