Tag Archives: Company announcements

An update on Fitbit

Last year, we announced that Google entered into an agreement to acquire Fitbit to help spur innovation in wearable devices and build products that help people lead healthier lives. As we continue to work with regulators to answer their questions, we wanted to share more about how we believe this deal will increase choice, and create engaging products and helpful experiences for consumers.

There's vibrant competition when it comes to smartwatches and fitness trackers, with Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Fossil, Huawei, Xiaomi and many others offering numerous products at a range of prices. We don’t currently make or sell wearable devices like these today. We believe the combination of Google and Fitbit's hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, making the next generation of devices better and more affordable. 

This deal is about devices, not data. We’ve been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads. We recently offered to make a legally binding commitment to the European Commission regarding our use of Fitbit data. As we do with all our products, we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move or delete their data. And we’ll continue to support wide connectivity and interoperability across our and other companies’ products. 

We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that addresses consumers' expectations of their wearable devices. We’re confident that by working closely with Fitbit’s team of experts, and bringing together our experience in AI, software and hardware, we can build compelling devices for people around the world.

Alphabet issues sustainability bonds to support environmental and social initiatives

For more than 20 years, Google's products have improved the lives of people all over the world. Operating our business in an environmentally and socially responsible way has been a core value since our founding in 1998. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and we’ve matched our entire electricity consumption with renewables for the past three years. We continue to make major investments in affordable housing and have made a number of significant commitments to promote racial equity

Today, as part of a $10 billion debt offering, we have issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond by any company in history. Although a number of companies have issued green bonds (directed solely to environmental uses), sustainability bonds differ in that their proceeds support investment in both environmental and social initiatives. Such bonds are an emerging asset class and we hope this transaction will help develop this new market. We’re encouraged that there was such strong demand for these bonds from investors—they were significantly oversubscribed.


The proceeds from these sustainability bonds will fund ongoing and new projects that are environmentally or socially responsible and enable investors to join us in tackling critical issues. We believe that these investments benefit our communities, employees and stakeholders, and are an important part of fulfilling Google’s  mission and goal of creating value over the long term. 


Consistent with the Green Bond Principles and the Social Bond Principles, eligible projects for use of proceeds are within the following eight areas that build on significant investments we have previously made and will not be allocated to any Google.org activities.

Energy efficiency

For more than a decade, we’ve worked to make Google data centers some of the most efficient in the world by optimizing our use of energy, water, and materials. Today, on average, a Google data center is twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data center. Compared with five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electricity.  

Clean energy

Combating climate change requires transitioning to a clean energy economy. To date, we have committed approximately $4 billion to purchase clean energy from more than 50 wind and solar projects globally through 2034. Next, we are focused on our longer term vision to source carbon-free energy for our operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week; this means matching our energy consumption with clean energy for each of our data centers around the world on an hour-by-hour basis.

Green buildings

Since the beginning, we've focused on the impact of our workplaces: from how we build our offices to preventing food waste in our cafes. Today, more than 13 million square feet of Google offices are LEED certified.

Clean transportation 

We’re working to mitigate carbon emissions and take cars off the road by promoting the use of EVs and bicycles. By using Google shuttles in the Bay Area, we saved 40,000+ metric tons of CO2 emissions—equivalent to taking 8,760 cars off the road every work day. 

Circular economy and design

We are committed to maximizing the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products, and supply chains and to enable others to do the same. To date, we’ve shipped millions of devices made with post-consumer recycled plastic and 100% of Nest products launched in 2019 include recycled plastics.

Affordable housing

We strive to be a good neighbor in the places we call home. To address the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area, we made a $1 billion commitment to invest in housing and expect to help build 20,000 residential units, of which at least 5,000 will be affordable. 

Commitment to racial equity 

Because racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity, we will continue to support Black businesses. Recent efforts include a $175+ million economic opportunity initiative, including financing for small businesses in Black communities, and a $100 million YouTube fund to amplify the voices of Black creators and artists.

Support for small business and COVID-19 response

COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on many businesses. To help we made an $800+ million commitment to small- and medium-sized businesses, health organizations, governments, and health workers on the frontlines. We’ve also partnered with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to provide low-interest loans to community development financial institutions, who in turn provide loans to small businesses in underserved communities in the U.S., and are working with the American Library Association to create entrepreneurship centers across the U.S. 

Our Sustainability Bond Framework will guide our investments. To ensure transparency and alignment with the framework, we'll report back annually on which projects have been funded from the bonds' proceeds and their expected impact.

This is the next chapter in our commitment to a more sustainable future for everyone. 

An update on Exposure Notifications

In May, we partnered with Apple to launch the Exposure Notifications System (ENS) and made it available to public health authorities around the world in their fight against COVID-19. The ENS allows public health authorities to develop apps that augment manual contact tracing efforts while preserving the privacy of their citizens. As of today, public health authorities have used ENS to launch in 16 countries and regions across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America, with more apps currently under development.  

In the United States, 20 states and territories—representing approximately 45 percent of the U.S. population—are exploring apps based on ENS. We expect to see the first set of these apps roll out over the coming weeks. The Association of Public Health Laboratories also announced recently that it will host a national key server to support all U.S. states, which will allow people with Exposure Notification apps to receive alerts even if they travel across state borders.

We’ve continued to improve the technology and provide more transparency based on feedback we’ve received from public health authorities and other experts. Public health authorities will continue to make their own decisions about how exposure notifications become part of their plans in controlling COVID-19, and we will work to improve the technology in response to their feedback. Here are some of the changes we’ve already made, as well as some upcoming additional changes.

Improvements to the Exposure Notification API

Since the Exposure Notification API was publicly released in May, we’ve spoken with dozens of public health authorities to understand how the API could be improved to help them better manage the COVID-19 pandemic while preserving privacy. Based on this feedback, we recently launched an update to the API, which includes the following changes:

  • When an exposure is detected, public health authorities now have more flexibility in determining the level of risk associated with that exposure based on technical information from the API.

  • Bluetooth calibration values for hundreds of devices have been updated to improve the detection of nearby devices.

  • The API now supports interoperability between countries, following feedback from governments that have launched Exposure Notification apps.

  • To help public health authorities build apps more efficiently, we’ve added reliability improvements for apps and developer debug tools. 

  • We’ve improved clarity, transparency and control for users. For example, the Exposure Notifications settings on Android now include a simple on/off toggle at the top of the page. In addition, users will also see a periodic reminder if ENS is turned on.

Technical guidance and transparency

We’ve heard feedback that public health authorities and developers want more technical guidance about how ENS works. In response, we’ve published the following resources over the last few weeks:

  • Reference verification server to help guide public health authorities in building a server that allows verification of test results when users report themselves as positive for COVID-19.

  • Implementation code showing how the Exposure Notification API works underneath the hood.

  • Telemetry design explaining what de-identified diagnostics data is collected to ensure that ENS is functioning properly and securely.

Additional technical resources will be publicly shared as we continue to improve ENS.

Education and privacy protections 

The Exposure Notifications website has more information about ENS, and offers educational and technical resources, as well as the latest updates. 

As a quick reminder, here are some of the core privacy protections that were built into ENS: 

  • You decide whether you want to use Exposure Notifications—it’s off unless you turn it on.

  • ENS doesn’t use location data from your device.

  • Your identity is not shared with Google, Apple or other users.

  • Only public health authorities can use this system.

Finally, we’ve received questions about why your Android device location setting has to be turned on if you want to use an Exposure Notification app. We want to explain why this particular setting needs to be on, and how you can control your location settings on Android.  

To be absolutely clear, ENS does not use device location, and the policies for using ENS prohibit public health authority apps from requesting or collecting device location. Instead, ENS uses Bluetooth technology to detect when two devices are near each other, without revealing the location of either device. While Bluetooth scanning doesn’t necessarily reveal location, it can in some cases be used to infer your device’s location. For example, if a shopping app scans for the Bluetooth signals of a stationary Bluetooth beacon located inside a store, then the app could infer that you went to that store. So in 2015, with privacy in mind, we designed the Android operating system to prevent Bluetooth scanning unless the device location setting is on. At that time no one could have anticipated that Bluetooth scanning might one day be helpful in controlling a global pandemic like COVID-19. 

Our engineering teams have been working to update the next version of Android with Exposure Notifications in mind. On Android 11, which will soon be released, users will be able to use Exposure Notification apps without turning on the device location setting. We’re making this update for Exposure Notifications only, given that ENS has been designed in such a way that neither the system nor the apps using it can infer device location through Bluetooth scanning, and apps that are allowed to use ENS are subject to additional policies that disallow automatic collection of location. All other apps and services will still be prohibited from performing Bluetooth scanning unless the device location setting is on. 

But even in current versions of Android, when you turn on the device location setting, your phone continues to prohibit access to any apps, including Google apps, that don’t have permission to use device location. The device location setting is like a circuit breaker in a house: When it’s on, power is flowing to the house, but you can turn the lights on or off in each room. If you turn on the device location setting to use ENS, it won’t affect the decisions you’ve already made about specific apps. You can always view and change which apps have access to your device location by going to Settings > Location > App permissions.

We’re committed to supporting public health authorities as they build tools to fight COVID-19. We’ll continue to improve ENS based on feedback, while ensuring that people can trust in the privacy-preserving design of this technology.

A year of work on the Bay Area’s housing and homeless crises

Today, we’re marking the one-year anniversary of our Bay Area housing commitment. Since last year, we’ve met with hundreds of advocates, developers and community leaders to understand how to quickly create affordable housing and support solutions to homelessness. In the Bay area, there’s a severe housing shortage of nearly 500,000 affordable units and the  homelessness crisis affects around 35,000 people. So we focused our efforts on two areas: grants to assist people experiencing homelessness and investments to produce more affordable housing. 

With last year’s commitments and the announcements below, we’ve allocated a total of $115 million from our $250 million investment fund, which we expect will help create around 24,000 new affordable housing units—both conventional and modular—by 2029. In addition, Google.org has granted $7.75 million to nonprofits on the front lines of homelessness. 

Google.org’s $50 million pledge 

Google.org’s grants to Bay Area nonprofits are projected to support more than 33,000 people with services like food distribution, job training, case management, and house 9,000 of those individuals over the span of four years. Google.org has supported solutions to homelessnessfor years and learned that the “Housing First” approach is the best way to help the homeless community. They will continue to support this approach with their new grants. 

Our $250 million investment fund

This past year we provided early and reliable capital to affordable housing projects, like The Kelsey Ayer Station, from our $250 million investment fund. Based in San José, The Kelsey Ayer Station will offer 115 homes for people with a range of incomes and 25 percent of the community is specifically reserved for people with disabilities. 

A rendering of The Kelsey Ayer Station in San José, California

A rendering of The Kelsey Ayer Station in San José, California. Image credit: The Kelsey.

We also committed $50 million to Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s TECH Fund to help build more affordable units quickly. So far, Housing Trust has invested these funds in six projects throughout the Bay Area with more to come. We’re encouraged that some housing developments that we invested in are already expected to break ground in 2021. 

As we focus on helping the Bay Area build more homes, we’re making two more commitments from our $250 million investment fund. 

Reinvesting in Housing Trust 

We’ve committed another $50 million to Housing Trust to establish the Launch Initiative. Funded 90 percent by Google, the initiative will give us—along with Housing Trust—opportunities to invest in a broader range of affordable housing projects. We’ve already seen progress with investments in two developments that are expected to create 150 homes: Alum Rock by Charities Housing in San Jose and Newark Timber by Eden Housing in Alameda County. In total, we’re estimating that this initiative will create 4,000 affordable units.

Supporting modular technology 

Modular housing is another opportunity to greatly increase the Bay Area’s housing supply. It’s faster and less expensive than conventional construction, two characteristics that are often unheard of in California’s housing industry. So, we’re looking into modular housing options for our investments. 

Workers are manufacturing a modular home.

Inside Factory_OS’ facility where workers are manufacturing a modular home. Image credit: Nancy Holliday.

As one example, we’ve been working with modular housing companies like Factory_OS. With our support, Factory_OS expects to double its production capacity by building a second factory, with a goal of creating tens of thousands affordable housing units over the next decade, including around 700 multi-family modular homes in Oakland and San Francisco by early 2021. 

Looking ahead

Over the last year, we’ve made progress proposing plans where residential units, offices, retail, and parks will coexist on our land. We’re working closely with elected officials and residents on proposals in Mountain View and have submitted our San José Downtown West mixed-use plan

We’ll continue working with our communities, local leaders, and elected officials like Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA 18th District) on solutions for the Bay Area. As she’s said, “We need an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to the homelessness and housing crises, particularly as COVID-19 continues to create long-term economic uncertainty and expose the dramatic inequities in our society. I look forward to continuing to work with Google to invest in our local communities and build a better future for our region.”


Header image credit: Affirmed Housing 

Bringing internet access to millions more Indians with Jio

Today we signed an agreement to invest $4.5 billion (INR 33,737 crore) in Jio Platforms Ltd, taking a 7.73 percent stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India. This is the first investment from the Google For India Digitization Fund announced earlier this week, which aims to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next five to seven years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. 


Google and Jio Platforms have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store. Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones. This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy.


This partnership comes at an exciting but critical stage in India’s digitization. It’s been amazing to see the changes in technology and network plans that have enabled more than half a billion Indians to get online. At the same time, the majority of people in India still don’t have access to the internet, and fewer still own a smartphone—so there’s much more work ahead. 


Our mission with Android has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone, and we’ve been humbled by the way Indians have embraced Android over recent years. We think the time is right to increase our commitment to India significantly, in collaboration with local companies, and partnership with Jio is the first step. We want to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones—together with the apps and services in the Play Store—are within reach for many more Indians across the country. And we believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world.  


For Google, our work in India goes to the heart of our efforts to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. We opened our first Indian campuses in Bangalore and Hyderabad in 2004. Since then, we’ve made India central to our Next Billion Users initiative—designed to ensure the internet is useful for people coming online for the first time. We’ve improved our apps and services so they’re relevant in more Indian languages and created offline versions for those facing network constraints. We’ve extended our tools to small businesses, sought to close digital divides with initiatives like Internet Saathi, and we’re increasingly focused on helping India harness AI. More and more, apps we create for India—like GPay or our Read Along language-learning app—influence what we do globally. 


Jio, for its part, has made an extraordinary contribution to India’s technological progress over the past decade. Its investments to expand telecommunications infrastructure, low-cost phones and affordable internet have changed the way its hundreds of millions of subscribers find news and information, communicate with one another, use services and run businesses. Today, Jio is increasing its focus on the development of areas like digital services, education, healthcare and entertainment that can support economic growth and social inclusion at a critical time in the country’s history. 


In partnership, we can draw on each other’s strengths. We look forward to bringing smartphone access to more Indians—and exploring the many ways we can work together to improve Indians’ lives and advance India’s digital economy.  


Investing in India’s digital future

Editor’s note: Today at Google for India, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund to help accelerate India’s digital economy. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks. Watch the full event here


Google for India is always a really special time, and I only wish I could be there in person.


One of the challenges of this moment is that we can’t visit the people we love, or the places we call home. During this time, the ability to be online has been a lifeline to so many of us: whether you’re a small business trying to stay afloat…a parent looking for updates on how to keep your family healthy…or a student trying to keep up with your studies. Being helpful in these moments is at the core of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. 

A new generation of Indian innovation

This mission is deeply personal to me. Growing up, technology provided a window to a world outside my own. It also brought us closer together as a family. Every evening we were drawn to the television by Doordarshan’s special rendition of “Sare Jahan Se Accha.” I tried to explain this to my colleagues the other day, but I eventually gave up and just showed it to them on YouTube. 


When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology to come to you. A whole new generation of technologies are happening in India first. 


It’s been incredible to see the rapid pace of change unfolding over my past few visits. From the excitement of young people using the latest apps and services, to the ways people are using smartphones to improve lives in rural villages, to the more than 2,500 Indian YouTube creators who each have over a million subscribers. I’ve actually turned to some of these creators for help over the last few weeks…for example, to learn how to make dishes like paneer makhani or pizza with my kids.

Indian small businesses go digital 

One of the most exciting success stories has been the digitization of small businesses. Just four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million SMBs are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month. What’s more, small merchants across the country are now equipped to accept digital payments. This has made it possible for more small businesses to become part of the formal economy, and it improves their access to credit.


The global pandemic has supercharged the adoption of digital tools. Digital payments, for example, have enabled families across India to access goods and services during lockdowns. For them, grocery delivery services have been invaluable—though I’m sure my grandmother misses haggling over the price of her vegetables in person.

When we build for India, we build for the world

Of course, all this progress was only possible because of a strong foundation of digital connectivity. Thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s vision for Digital India, the country has made huge progress in getting a billion Indians online. Low-cost smartphones combined with affordable data, and a world-class telecom infrastructure, have paved the way for new opportunities.


At Google, we’ve been proud to be a partner in India’s digitization journey since 2004, when we opened our first offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore. In those days, our focus was on getting helpful and relevant information to Indian users through Search, whether they were searching for their favorite Bollywood star or cricket scores.


From there, we spread awareness of the Internet in rural villages through programs like Internet Saathi. It’s helped more than 30 million women across India gain digital skills to improve their lives and their communities. 


Google’s efforts in India have deepened our understanding of how technology can be helpful to all different types of people. Building products for India first has helped us build better products for users everywhere. 


A recent example is GPay, our fast, simple way to pay contactless or online. Together with the rise in BHIM-UPI adoption, GPay makes it easy to pay the rickshawala, or send money to family back home. India is setting the global standard on how to digitize payments, and it’s now helping us build a global product.


Our AI-powered reading tutor app Bolo, now called Read Along, is another example of a technology built specifically for Indian users. Last year I visited with students in Mumbai who were using the app to learn to read on their own. It was amazing to see their excitement when they read a new word in Hindi for the first time. It received such positive reception, we’re rolling it out to the rest of the world—now children in 180 countries can learn to read in nine languages, with more to come. 


And our AI flood forecasting system was designed to keep people safe during India’s monsoon season. I’ll never forget how the 2015 floods in Chennai impacted so many families. I’m hopeful that this technology will bring greater peace of mind to the hundreds of millions of people affected by floods each year around the world.

Our next chapter of investment: Google for India Digitization Fund

These are just a few examples of how innovations that start in India can benefit the rest of the world. But India’s own digital journey is far from complete. There’s still more work to do in order to make the internet affordable and useful for a billion Indians…from improving voice input and computing for all of India’s languages, to inspiring and supporting a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.


Over the years, we’ve invested in many Indian businesses through Google, as well as through our growth equity investment fund CapitalG.


Today, I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund. Through this effort, we will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.


Investments will focus on four areas important to India’s digitization: 

  • First, enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it’s Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other

  • Second, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs

  • Third, empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation

  • Fourth, leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture

As we make these investments, we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realize our shared vision for a Digital India.


There’s no question we are facing a difficult moment today, in India and around the world. The dual challenges to our health and to our economies have forced us to rethink how we work and how we live. But times of challenge can lead to incredible moments of innovation. Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it. Working together we can ensure that our best days are still ahead.  

Our focus on helpful devices: Google acquires North

Today we're announcing that Google has acquired North, a pioneer in human computer interfaces and smart glasses. They've built a strong technology foundation, and we're excited to have North join us in our broader efforts to build helpful devices and services.


From 10 blue links on a PC, to Maps on your mobile phone, to Google Nest Hub sharing a recipe in the kitchen, Google has always strived to be helpful to people in their daily lives. We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background. We call this ambient computing.


North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future. They'll join the Google team based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada—North’s hometown and an area with impressive tech talent. We're excited to welcome our new colleagues, and committed to the growing global tech community of Kitchener-Waterloo. For more on what this announcement means for North and its community of customers and partners, read this blog post from North’s founders.


Our commitments to racial equity

Editor’s Note: CEO Sundar Pichai sent the following note to the company today.

Hi everyone, 

Over the past several weeks, violent and racist attacks against the Black community have forced the world to reckon with the structural and systemic racism that Black people have experienced over generations. My own search for answers started within our own walls. Listening to the personal accounts of members of our Black Leadership Advisory Group and our Black+ Googlers has only reinforced for me the reality our Black communities face: one where systemic racism permeates every aspect of life, from interactions with law enforcement, to access to housing and capital, to health care, education, and the workplace.

As a company, and as individuals who came here to build helpful products for everyone, Google commits to translating the energy of this moment into lasting, meaningful change. Today we are announcing a set of concrete commitments to move that work forward: internally, to build sustainable equity for Google’s Black+ community, and externally, to make our products and programs helpful in the moments that matter most to Black users. 

Building sustainable equity

Creating meaningful change starts within our own company. Strengthening our commitment to racial equity and inclusion will help Google build more helpful products for our users and the world. To that end, we’re announcing several commitments to build sustainable equity for our Black+ community. 

First, we’re working to improve Black+ representation at senior levels and committing to a goal to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30 percent by 2025. To help achieve this, we’ll post senior leadership roles externally as well as internally, and increase our investments in places such as Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, and London, where we already have offices. We'll take the same approach across regions, using site and country-specific plans to recruit and hire more underrepresented Googlers in communities where the social infrastructure already supports a sense of belonging and contributes to a better quality of life. 

Second, we’ll do more to address representation challenges and focus on hiring, retention, and promotion at all levels. To help direct that work, I’m establishing a new talent liaison within each product and functional area to mentor and advocate for the progression and retention of Googlers from underrepresented groups. I’m also convening a task force, including senior members of the Black+ community at Google, to develop concrete recommendations and proposals for accountability across all of the areas that affect the Black+ Googler experience, from recruiting and hiring, to performance management, to career progression and retention. I’ve asked the task force to come back with specific proposals (including measurable goals) within 90 days.

Third, we’re working to create a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging for Googlers in general and our Black+ community in particular. Our internal research shows that feelings of belonging are driven by many aspects of our experiences at work, including the psychological safety we feel among our teams, the support of our managers and leaders, equitable people processes, and opportunities to grow and develop our careers. Across all of these dimensions, we’re committed to building more inclusive practices and policies—and revisiting them when we don’t get them right. 

As one example, we’ve had a security practice of Googlers watching for “tailgaters” in order to reduce instances of unauthorized visitors in offices. We have realized this process is susceptible to bias. So, over the past year, our Global Security and Resilience team partnering with a cross-functional working group, conducted extensive research, listened to Black Googlers’ experiences, and developed and tested new security procedures to ensure we could maintain the safety and security of the Google community without relying on this type of enforcement. Now, as we prepare to return to the office, we will end the practice of Googlers badge-checking each other and rely on our already robust security infrastructure.

Fourth, we’ll establish a range of anti-racism educational programs that are global in view and able to scale to all Googlers.We’ll be welcoming external experts into Google to share their expertise on racial history and structural inequities, and start conversations on education, allyship, and self-reflection. And this week we’ve begun piloting a new, multi-series training for Googlers of all levels that explores systemic racism and racial consciousness, to help develop stronger awareness and capacity for creating spaces where everyone feels they belong. We plan to roll out this training globally by early next year. We’ll also integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our mandatory manager trainings.

Fifth, we’re focused on better supporting the mental and physical health and well-being of our Black+ community. For example, over the past year, we’ve worked with our mental health provider in the U.S., to increase their Black network of counselors from 6.6 percent to 9.8 percent. Our global EAP providers are also working to further diversify their network of counselors. Over the next 90 days, our Benefits team will work with the Equity Project Management Office and Black Leadership Advisory Group to identify areas where we could expand our benefits or provide additional support to Googlers and their families. As one example of the kinds of programs that work: we've made the medical second opinion service available to Googlers’ extended family—something that our Black+ community told us was important to supporting a family structure that includes siblings, parents, parents-in-law and grandparents. 

Building products for change

Turning to our external announcements, we want to create products and programs that help Black users in the moments that matter most. Two weeks ago, I put out a call for ideas, and Googlers from all over the world have submitted more than 500 suggestions. We’ve assembled a product task force to prioritize and implement these ideas in partnership with our Black Leadership Advisory Group and members of our Black Googler Network. 

Some activations have already launched, including the Assistant’s responses to questions related to Black Lives Matter and—as of this week—Juneteenth. We're also working quickly to give merchants in the U.S. the option of adding a “Black-owned” business attribute to their Business Profile on Google to help people find and support Black-owned local businesses by using Search and Maps. This opt-in feature is in development and will roll out to Business Profiles in the coming weeks.

Creating products for everyone is a core principle at Google, so our product teams will work to ensure that all users, and particularly Black users, see themselves reflected in our products. In addition, building on YouTube's announcement last week, our Trust and Safety team will work to strengthen our product policies against hate and harassment. 

Helping create economic opportunity

Beyond our products, we know that racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity. So today we are announcing a $175 million+ economic opportunity package to support Black business owners, startup founders, job seekers and developers, in addition to YouTube’s $100 million fund to amplify Black creators and artists. This new commitment includes:

  • $50 million in financing and grants for small businesses, focused on the Black community and in partnership with Opportunity Finance Network. This commitment builds on our recent $125 million Grow with Google Small Business Fund that is helping underserved minority and women-owned small businesses across the U.S.

  • $100 million in funding participation in Black-led capital firms, startups and organizations supporting Black entrepreneurs, including increased investments in Plexo Capital and non-dilutive funding to Black founders in the Google for Startups network.

  • $15 million in training, through partners like the National Urban League, to help Black jobseekers grow their skills. 

  • $10 million+ to help improve the Black community’s access to education, equipment and economic opportunities in our developer ecosystem, and increase equity, representation and inclusion across our developer platforms, including Android, Chrome, Flutter, Firebase, Google Play and more.

Mentorship is also critical to growing networks and successful businesses. Today, we are launching our Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders, a three-month digital accelerator program for high potential Seed to Series A startups and announcing an expansion of our Digital Coaches program to 8 new cities, including Memphis, Birmingham, and Cleveland, to provide 50K Black-owned businesses in the U.S. with the mentorship, networking and training they need to grow.

Improving education

We’re also committing nearly $3 million to help close the racial equity gaps in computer science education and increase Black+ representation in STEM fields. This starts with making sure Black students have access to opportunities early on in their education. To that end, we’re expanding our CS First curriculum to 7,000 more teachers who reach 100,000+ Black students, scaling our Applied Digital Skills program to reach 400,000 Black middle and high school students, and making a $1 million Google.org grant to the DonorsChoose #ISeeMe campaign, to help teachers access materials to make their classrooms more inclusive. 

Beyond the classroom, we’re increasing our exploreCSR awards to 16 more universities to address racial gaps in CS research & academia, and we’re also supporting Black in AI with $250,000 to help increase Black representation in the field of AI. 

These efforts build on our other education initiatives, including CodeNext, focused on cultivating the next generation of Black and Latinx tech leaders, and TechExchange, which partners with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) to bring students to Google’s campus for four months to learn about topics from product management to machine learning.

Supporting racial justice organizations

We also continue to support organizations working to advance criminal justice reform. Earlier this month, Google.org pledged another $12 million, in addition to the $32 million we’ve already contributed since the Charleston shooting five years ago today. We’re announcing the next round of grants—at $1 million each—to the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Policing Reform Campaign and the Movement for Black Lives. We’ve also created a public donation page to help raise even more for organizations fighting against racism and inequality. Recognizing that racism is a problem the world over, looking ahead, we will focus on more global solutions, and will be giving grants to local community organizations tackling these issues in Brazil, and across Europe and Africa.

Let me close by simply saying thank you to the many Googlers who have come together to drive these efforts. That includes our Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker and the Employee Engagement team, our Equity Project Management Office working in partnership with our Black Leadership Advisory Group and members of our Black Googler Network, and everyone who has stepped up with ideas on how we can build a better workplace, and, in turn, better products for the world. 

-Sundar

Standing with the Black community

Sundar sent the following email to Google employees today.

Hi Googlers,

I realize that nothing about this week feels like business as usual—and it shouldn’t. Our Black community is hurting, and many of us are searching for ways to stand up for what we believe, and reach out to people we love to show solidarity. Yesterday, I met with a group of our Black leaders to talk about where we go from here and how we can contribute as Google. We discussed many ideas, and we are working through where to put our energy and resources in the weeks and months ahead—I’ll share more on that below. 

In the meantime, I wanted to provide space for us to come together as a community. Today at 1:00pm PDT we’ll be standing together to honor the memories of Black lives lost in an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence.  

The length of the moment of silence represents the amount of time George Floyd suffered before he was killed. It's meant to serve as a visceral reminder of the injustice inflicted on Mr. Floyd and so many others. We acknowledge that racism and violence may look different in different parts of the world, so please use this as a moment to reflect on those who have been lost in your own country or community at a time that works for you. If you would like to share this silent space with your fellow Googlers, join thelive stream at 1:00 pm PDT today. 

Coming together as a community and showing support is important, but it isn’t enough. So today, we are announcing a few initial commitments to meet the urgency of the moment. 

  • We’ll be giving $12 million in funding to organizations working to address racial inequities. Our first grants of $1 million each will go to our long-term partners at the Center for Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative. And we’ll be providing technical support through ourGoogle.org Fellows program. This builds on the $32 million we havedonated to racial justice over the past five years. We’ll also offer $25 million in Ad Grants to help organizations fighting racial injustice provide critical information.

  • As a result of last week’s internal giving campaign, I‘m pleased to share that you all have contributed an additional $2.5 million in donations that we’re matching. This represents the largest Googler giving campaign in our company’s history, with both the largest amount raised by employees and the broadest participation.  

Supporting worthy organizations is a step in the right direction, but it is not a replacement for doing the harder work ahead both within and outside of Google. The events of the past few weeks reflect deep structural challenges. We’ll work closely with our Black community to develop initiatives and product ideas that support long-term solutions—and we’ll keep you updated. As part of this effort, we welcome your ideas on how to use our products and technology to improve access and opportunity.

-Sundar

Working from home and the office

Sundar sent the following email to Google employees earlier today.

Hi Googlers, 

As mentioned in our last TGIF, we’ll be approaching the return to office with a gradual, phased approach, taking both team and individual needs and preferences into account: we are taking slow, deliberate steps to begin re-opening offices in areas where they still remain largely closed. We’re also investing more in your work-from-home setup to make sure you have what you need to be productive and comfortable. 

Beginning July 6, assuming external conditions allow, we’ll start to open more buildings in more cities. This will give Googlers who need to come back to the office—or, capacity permitting, who want to come back—the opportunity to return on a limited, rotating basis (think: one day every couple of weeks, so roughly 10 percent building occupancy). We’ll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed, so the office will look and feel different than when you left. Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols. 

In the September timeframe (again, assuming conditions allow), we will further scale the rotation program, building over time to 30 percent capacity (which would mean most people who want to come in could do so on a limited basis, while still prioritizing those who need to come in). 

There are a limited number of Googlers whose roles are needed back in office this calendar year. If this applies to you, your manager will let you know by June 10. For everyone else, returning to the office will be voluntary through the end of the year, and we encourage you to continue to work from home if you can. 

While some of you have expressed interest in coming back to the office, others have asked whether it’s okay to temporarily relocate to another place to be closer to family while you’re working from home. Please talk with your manager if you are considering this, and review the guidelines, which include important information about a number of personal factors you should consider (such as your tax filings and health coverage/eligibility).

Moving ahead, we are looking to develop more overall flexibility in how we work. Our campuses are designed to enable collaboration and community—in fact, some of our greatest innovations were the result of chance encounters in the office—and it’s clear this is something many of us don’t want to lose. At the same time, we are very familiar with distributed work as we have many offices around the world and open-minded about the lessons we’ll learn through this period. We continue to study all the data and feedback you’re sharing on your current experience. I believe that ultimately these insights will lead to more flexibility and choice for employees as they consider how to work in the future. 

Because we still expect that most Googlers will be largely working from home for the rest of this year, we’ll be giving each Googler an allowance of $1,000 USD, or the equivalent value in your country, to expense necessary equipment and office furniture.

Finally, we continue to experiment with sharing more of our in-office experiences virtually, with a focus on health, wellness, and fun. A couple of examples: fitness with gFit instructors, cooking and nutrition lessons from Google chefs, and [email protected] Storytime.

We’ll share more specifics on the return to office plan and answer questions on this topic at upcoming forums. Thank you for everything you are doing to support our users and partners. It’s important work that is making a big difference.

Please continue to take good care of yourselves and one another.