Coronavirus: Google Pledges $800 Million For Covid-19 Crisis

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Search engine giant pledges $800 million to fight against Coronavirus, mostly with the provision of free advertising for organisations

Google’s owner Alphabet has set aside a significant sum of money to help in the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

The firm will set aside $800 million, up from the $25 million it had initially announced. However, a sizeable chunk of the money will take the form of free advertising for small and medium-sized businesses, and healthcare organisations.

It comes as the tech sector responds to the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week Cisco for example announced that it is committing $225 million in cash and equipment to support both the global and local response to Covid-19.

coronavirus Image credit: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Image credit: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

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The donation was announced by Sundar Pichai, the CEO of both Google and Alphabet in a blog post last Friday.

“As the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen around the world, it’s taking a devastating toll on lives and communities,” said Pichai. “To help address some of these challenges, today we’re announcing a new $800+ million commitment to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organisations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.”

The way the donation will be split is as follows.

  1. Firstly, there will be $250 million in ad grants to “help the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other measures to help local communities.”
  2. Secondly, a $200 million investment fund will support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital.
  3. Thirdly, $340 million in “Google Ads credits will be made available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms.”
  4. And fourthly a pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage Alphabet’s computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat Covid-19.

Pichai also confirmed that the tech titan is providing direct financial support and expertise to help increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medical devices.

He said that Alphabet is working with its longtime supplier and partner Magid Glove & Safety, with the goal of ramping up production of 2-3 million face masks in the coming weeks that will be provided to the CDC Foundation.

In addition, staff “from across Alphabet, including Google, Verily and X, are bringing engineering, supply chain and healthcare expertise to facilitate increased production of ventilators, working with equipment manufacturers, distributors and the government in this effort.”

Tech responses

The tech industry seems to be responding well to the global pandemic.

Apple for example is working with the US government’s Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC and FEMA, and has released an iOS app and website that provide information and self-diagnosis assistance related to Covid-19.

Apple has also said that it would donate more than 10 million respirator masks across the US and Europe.

Facebook meanwhile has offered free ad credits to the WHO and other institutions to provide accurate information about the coronavirus.

IBM is donating its supercomputing resources to help in the fight against the pandemic.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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