In the course of the time it takes me to introduce Eric Schmidt, the esteemed recipient of ADL’s International Leadership Award, Google will handle in the neighborhood of 12 million searches. Or, put another way, in one month Google - the company which Eric steered as CEO for more than a decade and now serves as Executive Chairman – handles over a 100 billion searches. Wow!
Added to that almost 6 billion hours of video on Google-owned YouTube are watched every month, reaching more adults ages 18-34 than any cable network, and one just begins to see the astonishing reach this company has. And that doesn’t even take into account the 425 million plus who use gmail and the more than one billion smart phones and other devices now using Google’s Android operating system. Google is truly one of the most remarkable corporate success stories in history.
Perhaps more than any other company, Google has transformed the world providing us new ways to learn, teach, think, work, and interact with each other. Because of Google, the world is more inter-connected than ever before, and because of Google, humanity’s strengths and weaknesses are on display as never before.
Eric Schmidt is the quintessential “out-of-the-box” thinker, entrepreneur and businessman. He came of age when telecommunications was exploding and the vaunted “information superhighway” was blossoming. And he sure rode that wave as few others have done. Not only was he responsible as CEO for helping to expand Google from a Silicon Valley start-up to the powerhouse it is today, but he also had quite a distinguished career even before he joined the company in 2001. His leadership skills were developed in prior positions at other prominent companies, including Novell and Sun Microsystems.
The respect Eric commands is also evidenced by his membership on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council in the U.K., and his induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a fellow in 2007. His Schmidt Family Foundation has also given generously to such important causes as education, climate change and renewable energy.
It makes sense that we are recognizing Eric Schmidt here today, on the same platform as our good friend Shimon Peres, because of the remarkable support and encouragement Eric has personally given to Israel’s high-tech industry.
On his most recent visit to Israel, Eric wrote an open letter for a Hebrew financial website in which he praised Israel’s technological advances and admired Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit and its place in the world of innovation. He has described Israel as a “key country” and a “tech miracle” in which Google has important partnerships and intends to expand its investments. He has called Tel Aviv second only to Silicon Valley, indicating that “nowhere in the world is comparable, not even Boston and New York.”
Eric may be the largest individual investor in Israel tech and his imprimatur putting his resources with his endorsement speaks volumes to others thinking of investing there. He has said: “there a no disadvantages to investing in Israel—just advantages.”
We are grateful for that support for this “Start-Up Nation”, and we know and appreciate that it reflects Eric’s, Google’s and Israel’s shared values of an entrepreneurial spirit that can lead to a better world.
If I were asked to try to capture what Google is about in one word, that word might be “imagination.” Of course, Google is not the only one who has imagined what a better world could look like.
Last year, as we at the Anti-Defamation League marked our 100th anniversary (yes, we are a little older than Google), we created a special video calling on people to “Imagine a World Without Hate.” I am proud to say, in Eric’s presence, that this video “went viral” on YouTube and impacted millions.
Unfortunately, today we are still a long way from our dream of a world without hate. The magical Internet that Google envisions has a dark side contaminated by anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, bullying, and extremism. Google, YouTube, and the other key players in the Internet industry understand this, and for the past several years we at ADL have been convening policy staff at these companies to discuss the issues and trends and to develop new strategies to combat the challenge of online hate. We have made substantial progress, and I am pleased to announce that this week we are issuing a Best Practices document which will serve henceforth as a guidepost for providers and for the Internet community when confronted with hate online.
This document is significant because it was crafted in close consultation with a working group that has been convened by ADL under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism for the past couple of years. That working group has included Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, PayPal and others. All these companies have all committed to make their user communities aware of our Best Practices document and to help ADL promote it, and with their assistance it will reach millions and mark an important step forward toward a more civil and respectful Internet. We thank Eric for his leadership in making Google a key player in this important effort.
Of course, there is much work still to be done to make the Internet a safer and more civil place. We know we can count on Google as a continuing partner in that effort.
The Anti-Defamation League’s International Leadership Award was established to pay tribute “to those exceptional individuals and corporations whose vision, imagination and creativity have left an indelible mark upon the global community” and to recognize “those who combine corporate success with a profound commitment to community involvement and to crossing borders and barriers with a message of diversity and equal opportunity.”
Who could possibly fit that description better than the Eric Schmidt and the company he has steered for more than a decade with imagination, invention and incredible success?
When Eric spoke at a conference in Tel Aviv two years ago, he concluded his remarks by saying “people should not be afraid of technology…. The future is just starting.”
With a sense of optimism for that future, and confidence in the amazing ability of Eric and his counterparts throughout the high-tech industry to make the world a better place for all of us, I am privileged to present this year’s ADL International Leadership Award to the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.
Our award is a unique hand crafted work of art from Israel. In the Jewish tradition, we give what we call "tzedakah" which is loosely translated as charity but which really derives from the words for righteousness, justice or fairness. Eric you have been successful beyond measure and you have given so much back to others, giving of your knowledge and your resources. May this tzedakah box remind you of the affection and respect we hold for you and for all you have done to help change the world for the better.