Online population will 'double to 5b by 2020'

Google's facility in Warsaw is one of five tech hubs the IT giant has created worldwide, with a sixth planned to open in Sao Paulo, Brazil next year. Google Europe president Matt Brittin said the moment is now for start-ups to think about the five bi
Google's facility in Warsaw is one of five tech hubs the IT giant has created worldwide, with a sixth planned to open in Sao Paulo, Brazil next year. Google Europe president Matt Brittin said the moment is now for start-ups to think about the five billion people they can connect with in five years.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WARSAW • The world's online population will double to five billion by 2020, presenting "huge" business opportunities for tech start-ups on the cutting edge of the unprecedented expansion, according to the head of Google Europe.

"The connected population is going to double in five years. Five billion online. Everyone with the entire Internet in their pockets," Google Europe president Matt Brittin said in Warsaw as he opened his company's fifth "campus" for IT start-ups.

"That's a huge opportunity," he said, adding that "this is a transformational period".

"Five years where we'll go from a minority to a majority of the people on the planet being connected. That's why the moment is now for start-ups to look up and out and think about that market of five billion people that you can connect with in the next five years."

Google chose a renovated vodka distillery in a poorer area of the Polish capital for its first "cam-pus" for IT business start-ups in eastern Europe.

The facility is one of five tech hubs the global IT giant has created worldwide, with a sixth planned to open in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the first half of next year.

Google, which got its start in a garage, provides tech start-ups with low-cost or free-of-charge spaces to meet and work on the campuses, along with business mentoring. Mr Brittin said that although Google is a search engine, it has also become "a growth engine for entrepreneurs and for the economy".

"Today we see millions of companies who are growing and exporting by accessing tools, talent, technology, sales and distribution around the world. We call them

the 'micro-multinationals'. Every start-up can be global from its birth."

Poland's new Minister for Development, Mr Mateusz Morawiecki, said he hoped the tech hub would help stem the brain drain of young Poles to western Europe.

Over two million Poles have moved west since their country joined the European Union in 2004.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Online population will 'double to 5b by 2020''. Print Edition | Subscribe