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Google will spend $7 billion and add 10,000+ jobs in 2021: Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat

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Tech giant Google (GOOG, GOOGL) on Thursday announced it will spend $7 billion this year on an expansion of its U.S. facility footprint, adding at least 10,000 jobs across a host of cities, among them Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York.

The investment defies concerns over a potential tech pullback in 2021 as widespread vaccination allows Americans to spend more time outside their homes, and it positions Google as a major private sector contributor to the economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn.

Plus, the move pours funds into diverse metropolitan areas beyond Silicon Valley, helping the company hire a more inclusive workforce; all while reaffirming its commitment to California, where Google will invest $1 billion, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

"We're investing aggressively in the U.S. in 2021," Ruth Porat, the Chief Financial Officer of Google's parent company Alphabet, told Yahoo Finance in a new interview. "We're both building on our existing major centers, as well as expanding across the US."

"We're not only increasing the number of jobs across the U.S., but in particular, we're bringing more jobs and investment to diverse communities across the U.S.," she adds.

The investment will allow Google to establish a workforce in New York in 2028 twice as large as it was 10 years prior, the company said. More broadly, the company will spread the funds across 19 states, including data center expansions in Nebraska, South Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, and Texas.

Image: Google
Image: Google

'It's a journey'

Even as she praised the announcement's potential benefits for Google's diversity, Porat acknowledged that the company still has a lot to improve in that area.

A diversity report released by Google last year found that Black employees make up just 3.7% of the overall workforce and 2.6% of leadership positions; meanwhile Latinx employees account for just 5.9% of the workforce and 3.7% of leadership slots.

"There's quite a bit of work to be done," Porat says. "We're continuing to ensure that we're putting all the elements in place, so that we can steadily grow a workforce that reflects the world around us."

"It's a journey and one that is of the highest priority for us," she adds. "We're continuing to work at it."

Google enjoyed strong performance in the second half 2020 due in part to a rebound in ad revenue from search and YouTube with hundreds of millions of Americans stuck at home on digital devices. The company capped the year with staggering revenue in Q4, pulling in $56.9 billion, which marked a 23% increase over the same period last year.

But the company also faces three antitrust lawsuits, including one from the Department of Justice and another from 38 attorneys general.

Porat spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

She joined Google as CFO in 2015, after more than a decade in senior banking roles at Morgan Stanley. While helping Google navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Porat has drawn on her background in managing crises.

To start her career, she took a role at Morgan Stanley weeks before the October 1987 market crash; and she later advised the Treasury Department on the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the New York Federal Reserve Bank on AIG during the 2008 financial crisis.

Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Porat said the surge of investment in the U.S. will not detract from Google's plans to expand operations abroad.

"We definitely are continuing to grow globally," she says. "I would underscore that we're just very proud of the ongoing growth that we have here in the U.S."

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