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Eric Schmidt's oral testimony before senators

Read a copy of Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt's oral testimony before the Senate subcommitte on antitrust, competition policy, and consumer rights.

Eric Schmidt Testimony - Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon Chairman Kohl, Ranking Member Lee, and Members of the subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me here today.

I want to start first by taking a step back.

Twenty years ago, a large technology firm was setting the world on fire. Its software was on nearly every computer. Its name was synonymous with innovation.

But that company lost sight of what mattered. Then Washington stepped in.

I was an executive at Sun and later Novell at the time. And in the years since, many of us in Silicon Valley have absorbed the lessons of that era.

So I'm here today carrying a long history in the technology business and a very short message about our company:

We get it.

By that I mean that we get the lessons of our corporate predecessors.

We also get that it's natural for you to have questions about our business.

What we ask is that you help us ensure that the Federal Trade Commission's inquiry remains a focused and fair process, so that we can continue creating jobs and building products that delight our users.

Before I talk about our perspective on the state of technology overall, I'd like to start by explaining how we think about our own business and a few of the principles that guide us:

  • First: Always put consumers first.
    Last year alone we made more than 500 changes to improve search. This is not an easy task. Our challenge is to return only the most relevant results first. This means that not every website can come out on top. This results in some complaints from businesses who want to be first in the rankings, even when they're not the best match for a user's search.

  • Second: Focus on loyalty, not lock-in.
    We don't trap our users. If you don't like the answer that Google Search provides, you can switch to another search engine with just one click.

    And if you want to leave other Google services, we make it easy to do that too--you can even take your data with you, without any hassle. We want consumers to stay with us because we're innovating and making our products better--not because they're locked in.

  • Third: Be open, not closed.
    Open technology includes both open source, meaning we release and actively support code that helps grow the Internet, and open standards, meaning we adhere to accepted standards and, if none exist, work to create standards that improve the entire Internet.

  • Fourth: Be transparent.
    We share more information about how our search engine and other products work than any of our competitors. And we give advertisers detailed information about their performance and return on investment.

  • Finally: The only constant is change.
    Ten years ago, no one would have guessed that the IT landscape, vocabulary or economics would look like it does today. And no one knows what it will look like in one year or five years.

Despite what others might say about the American economy, I still think the future is very bright. While there's no doubt that we're facing difficult times, there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the technology business.

While others have given up on the American economy, Google is doubling down.

We're investing in people. In 2002 we had fewer than 1,000 employees working at Google. Today we have more than 24,000.

And we're hiring: earlier this year we announced 2011 would be our biggest hiring year yet, and we're on target to meet that goal.

We're investing in mobile. Just look at our plans to acquire a great American company, Motorola Mobility. We believe that our proposed acquisition of Motorola, like many previous moves we've made, is good for competition, innovation and the American economy. It's a big bet but we're confident that the acquisition will lead to growth and innovation in mobile technology.

We're investing in local. Today 97% of people look online for local goods and services, but 63% of America's small businesses don't have a website. That's why we've started an initiative to help small businesses get online. We've partnered with Intuit to offer local businesses free websites and tips on how to grow their online presence.

Last year alone, Google's search and advertising tools provided 64 billion dollars in economic activity to other companies, publishers and non-profits in the U.S. and we're proud of this contribution to the economy.

Without exaggeration, high tech is the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy. The advertising-supported Internet alone is responsible for 3.1 million jobs in the United States. And according to a recent McKinsey study, the Internet was responsible for 15 percent of America's GDP growth over the past five years.

The Internet is also home to some of America's most successful companies--Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. We compete hard against each other and we welcome that competition. It makes us better. It makes our competitors better.

And, most importantly, it means better products for our users.

So today it's Google's turn in the spotlight and we respect the role members of this Committee and agency officials have in this process.

But I ask you to remember that not all companies are cut from the same cloth, and that one company's past need not be another's future. We live in a different world today, and the open Internet is the ultimate level playing field.

If you keep that in mind, then we believe that the FTC's inquiry will reveal an enthusiastic company filled with people who believe we have only just scratched the surface of what's possible. That passion to do better will not only serve our users well, it will serve our nation well, by helping create the new jobs and economic growth that America needs.

Thank you very much for your time.