What Brexit? Google expanding London headcount by 3,000

16 Nov 2016

London. Image: Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Google shows no signs of Brexit fear after plans were revealed for a new London HQ, bringing in a potential 3,000 jobs for England’s capital.

Google’s support of the UK tech scene shows no signs of abating anytime soon, as the international turbulence caused by two landmark elections in the UK and US this year has not impacted upon the tech giant’s expansion plans.

Despite suggestions that US companies will be forced ‘home’ in the wake of Donald Trump’s successful US presidential bid, or worries that a UK withdrawal from the EU will cause industrial headaches in the coming years, Google is happy to play its hand early.

Google Brexit London

Yesterday it emerged that Sundar Pichai, chief executive of the search engine behemoth, viewed London as the perfect place to set up shop.

Google has yet to reveal how much a redevelopment of its King’s Cross offices will cost, but the BBC suggests a figure of £1bn, as part of an employment increase from 4,000 to 7,000 by the end of the decade.

“The UK has been a tremendous market for us,” said Pichai. “We see big opportunities here. This is a big commitment from us – we have some of the best talent in the world in the UK, and to be able to build great products from here sets us up well for the long term.”

Of course, Brexit cannot simply be ignored, with Pichai insisting that open borders and free movement of skilled migrants – the EU in a nutshell – were key to the company’s strategy.

It’s a mighty busy time for Google as lawsuits and acquisitions continue to badger Pichai’s company.

In the face of a $7.4bn fine, it has dismissed the European Commission’s (EC) claims that its dominance of the mobile OS market is hurting competition.

Google said that the Android ecosystem carefully balances the interests of developers, hardware makers and mobile network operators.

“Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it,” said Google senior vice president and general counsel, Kent Walker.

Elsewhere, a separate anti-competition shopping case from the EC has been rebuffed, with Google claiming that Amazon and Facebook are getting off scot-free.

“Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites,” said Walker.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic