Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is planning to expand its staff by a third over the next couple of years, and it says it will hire most of those people in Europe. According to the FT: "Google plans to hire several thousand engineers in Europe to create a research and development team in the region as big as the one it has in the US."
Why Europe? For one thing, Google is the most visited website in most big European countries including the UK, France, and Germany, according to comScore.
But the reason extends well beyond the search company's popularity in the EU. After watching Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) attacked for anti-competitive practices, the search company may feel that a larger presence in Europe will help it to be considered a part of the family. Its image as another huge US tech company coming to the region to collect revenue would not help its chances if authorities where to question why its search market share is so large.
Google may be smart where other big US tech companies have not been. If Google has thousands of engineers in the region, regulators may not want to put those jobs at risk.
And, Google may calculate that it can hire good engineers almost anywhere.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St.