Google, which dominates online advertising, continues to thrive amid escalating threats of regulation in Washington and a wider backlash against Silicon Valley and widespread data collection.

In the first quarter, Google parent company Alphabet's net income grew by 73 per cent, totaling about US$9.4 billion ($13.2b). Revenue rose 26 per cent to US$31b from US$25b last year, beating analyst estimates. Alphabet's stock climbed nearly 1 per cent in aftermarket trading.

Following Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's highly publicised hearings on Capitol Hill this month, lawmakers from both parties have pledged to introduce new data privacy regulations that would strike at the heart of Google's business.

In recent weeks, Facebook has been under the spotlight over its data collection practices and lack of transparency. But Google and its popular video service YouTube have also drawn scrutiny for surfacing questionable and extremist content, and potential violations of child privacy online.


Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said the company remained focused on ensuring that YouTube "remains a safe platform with great content", adding that the service is "aggressively combating content that violates our strict policies".

Pichai also nodded to the shooting at YouTube's headquarters earlier this month. A woman shot three people there over her inability to make money from her YouTube videos, and complained about being censored by the video site.

"It's been a particularly tough few weeks for the Google family, especially at YouTube," Pichai said.

He thanked employees, and said he was grateful for the support Google had received from the community and the industry.

Pichai is about to receive a US$380m payout.

In 2014, Pichai, 45, received an award of restricted shares in the company as part of a promotion. The 353,939 shares worth around US$380m vest on April 25, according to the Daily Mail.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, is about to receive US$380 million payout. Picture / AP
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, is about to receive US$380 million payout. Picture / AP

This makes it one of the largest single payouts to a public company executive in recent years, according to Bloomberg.

Pichai joined Google in 2004, where he led the product management and innovation efforts for a suite of Google's client software products, including Google Chrome and Chrome OS.


Pichai allegedly received the shares before his promotion to senior vice president of products a year earlier, when he took over many of co-founder Larry Page's responsibilities.

The award increased in value as Alphabet's stock surged 90 percent since the grant date.

Google has consistently paid Pichai more than $100 million in total compensation per year since 2014. The company has yet to disclose Pichai's compensation for 2017.

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet, said that the company's non-advertising businesses had also seen substantial growth, including its cloud storage unit, hardware such as the home speaker and Pixel phone, and Google's mobile app store, Play.

Silicon Valley's recent troubles, however, have not cut into the core businesses strength of Google. Facebook is scheduled to report earnings this week.

Google is expected to command more than 37 per cent of the US digital ad market, at about US$40b this year, continuing its dominance, according to eMarketer. The firm's closest competitor, Facebook, will claim roughly 20 per cent of the market.

While the two firms are expected to hold their leading positions, other tech companies are chiseling away. Smaller players such as Amazon and Snapchat have seen rapid growth in digital advertising, pushing forecasts of Google and Facebook's collective market share slightly downward to 57 per cent, compared to 59 per cent last year, eMarketer said.

Monica Peart, senior director of forecasting at eMarketer, said that Google's growth in advertising was driven by consumer shifts to mobile, which Google had shifted to capture, as well as the success of YouTube's advertising and subscription service.

Google's first quarter earnings coincided with the company's lobbying disclosures, filed late last week.

In the first three months of this year, Google spent more than any other company, doling out more than US$5 million to influence the federal government on issues including the regulation of online ads, child privacy and antitrust law.

Last year, for the first time, Google spent more than any corporation on federal lobbying, which was also a first for any Silicon Valley company. Experts say the increased spending reflects a more skeptical mood in Washington, as well as the sprawling business endeavours that has brought Google and its products into so many facets of modern life.

- Washington Post, Daily Mail