Google is launching an AI research center in France and expanding its office

Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a blog post about Google’s investments in France. There are three different pieces of news in this announcement.

First, Google is going to expand its office in Paris. If you already know Google’s current office in Paris, that building is going to stick around. The company is going to acquire or rent other buildings around Google’s current office and connect them.

Google is adding 6,000 square meters of office space (64,500 square feet). In total, a thousand Google employees are going to be based in Paris.

In addition to growing Google’s current teams, the company is going to create a new research center dedicated to artificial intelligence. France has some of the best universities and schools in the world when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

That’s why Facebook already created an AI research center in Paris back in 2015. Facebook also announced earlier today that it would inject another €10 million to support 40 PhD researchers instead of 10, and double the team of researchers and engineers, from 30 to 60.

Google has yet to share more details about its plans for its AI research center — but it’s clear that Paris has become a key city when it comes to AI talent.

Finally, Google is creating Google Hubs with local partners around France, starting with Rennes, with three other hubs coming soon. Those physical locations will help when it comes to learning digital skills. Google is approaching market saturation. If the company wants to acquire new users, the company needs to bring more people online.

French President Emmanuel Macron met privately with Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg earlier today. Macron also invited 140 CEOs to Versailles to talk about France’s attractiveness ahead of Davos. That’s why both Facebook and Google had things to share today.

In recent years, Google faced a huge $1.3 billion fine for tax noncompliance in France. A court in Paris canceled the fine in July 2017. But it’s clear that France represents an important market and a regulatory risk for big tech companies. Hiring people in France, investing in France and “training” people about Google’s services is a great way to lobby the French government using a bottom-up approach.