Sundar Pichai to tell U.S. Congress how Google increases 'access to opportunity'

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Google-parent Alphabet, in his prepared statement for the big tech antitrust hearing on Wednesday, July 29, 12 noon EST (Thursday, July 28, 12 am, Philippine time) highlights Google's contributions to society, relating it to how technology has steered the course of his career.

"To this day, I haven't forgotten how access to innovation and technology altered the course of my life. Google aims to build products that increase access to opportunity for everyone – no matter where you live, what you believe, or how much money you earn," Pichai says.

The India-born executive harkens back to his first time in the US, at a computer lab during his time as a graduate student, saying he "didn't have much access to a computer growing up in India."

"Accessing the internet for the first time in that computer lab set me on a path to bring technology to as many people as possible. It's what inspired me to join Google 16 years ago."

At Google, he helped create the web browser Chrome and Android.

Pichai's personal anecdote attempts to strike a chord with the US Congress who is looking to see if big tech has indeed become too powerful and big.

The CEO transitions from that personal story to that of Google, painting the company as something that has helped and will help open opportunities for businesses, and as the provider of essential technology aiding in people's daily lives. (READ: What to expect: U.S. Congress and big tech CEOs to face off in antitrust hearing)

"An important way we contribute is by building products that are helpful to American users in moments big and small, whether they are looking for a faster route home, learning how to cook a new dish on YouTube, or growing a small business. Survey research found that free services like Search, Gmail, Maps, and Photos provide thousands of dollars a year in value to the average American."

He cites an example – a bakery in New York City – which uses tools like Google My Business to interact with their customers and tools like Google Analytics to "track the selectiveness of their marketing spend."

Like the other big tech CEOs Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple's Tim Cook, Pichai defends his company by illustrating how they've used technology for social good, and created a consumer-friendly market.

Among the biggest questions that Pichai will likely face is their dominance in the digital ad market. With Facebook, they form a duopoly on digital ads, which has resulted in a drought for more traditional media outfits and news publications.

Pichai also touches on their investments in research and development – totaling $90 billion over the last 5 years – that they say would help keep the country a technology leader.

"Through these investments, our teams of engineers are helping America solidify its position as the global leader in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and quantum computing."

Like Mark Zuckerberg, Pichai also notes growing competition in their vertical, saying that "people have more ways to search for information than ever before – and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine."

"Often the answer is just a click or an app away: You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest."

"When searching for products online, you may be visiting Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or any one of a number of e-commerce providers, where most online shopping queries happen. Similarly, in areas like travel and real estate, Google faces strong competition for search queries from many businesses that are experts in these areas," the CEO explains.

In the past two years, Google has been fined in the EU and India for antitrust cases. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.

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