Google spending beaucoup bucks on expansion in France

An AI research center, a bigger Paris headquarters and four Google Hubs to teach digital literacy are all in the works.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
2 min read

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) talks with Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the "Choose France" summit in Paris on Monday. 

Thibault Camus / AFP/Getty Images

Google is saying bonjour to France in a major way.

Following a meeting early Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced expansion efforts in the country that include a new AI research center, a beefed-up workforce and four Google Hubs for teaching online skills and digital literacy.

A research team at the artificial intelligence center will work with French colleagues on a broad range of issues, from health, science, art and the environment, Pichai said.

Facebook, which already has an AI lab in Paris, also said it will double its team there to 100 people by 2012 and invest $12.2 million, according to Bloomberg. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was also a guest of Macron's, along with 140 top execs from different industries, who met for a "Choose France" summit on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Pichai said Google will be increasing its staff in France by 50 percent to 1,000. That means it will need to expand its Paris headquarters offices by 6,000 square meters.

The four Google Hubs, called "Les Ateliers Numériques," will be run by a network of local partners from the digital sector. Brittany will be the pilot region, with the opening of a Google Hub in Rennes during the first half of 2018, Pichai said. 

In July, after a Paris court dismissed a 1.11 billion euro ($1.27 billion) tax bill that had been levied against Google for routing ad sales in France through its Ireland-based subsidiary, the company promised it would abide by French tax law and international standards. "We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy," Google said at the time.