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article imageGoogle abandons plans for Berlin campus after protests

By Karen Graham     Oct 25, 2018 in Technology
Berlin - Internet giant Google confirmed Thursday morning it is abandoning plans to establish a campus for tech startups in Berlin after protests from residents worried about gentrification.
Google has decided to abandon its plans to set up an incubator for startups in Kreuzberg, saying the company will sublet the former electrical substation to two charitable organizations, Betterplace.org and Karuna reports the Associated Press.
Kreuzberg is described as a "trendy" district and local protests against gentrification have been going on since September when protestors occupied the building for several hours. Activists also put up stickers and posters saying, "Goodbye Google" and "Google is not a good neighbor."
The district has long been known for its radical and underground culture, and most activists have proclaimed it was their protests that forced Google to change its plans.
However, Google spokesman Ralf Bremer told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that the company "does not allow protests to dictate our actions."
Google has over a dozen campuses around the world where the sites act as hubs, bringing together startups, potential employees and investors. But to the residents of Kreuzberg, the real fear of higher rents and everything associated with what a technology company could bring into the community was a bigger concern.
The Knight Fox property consultancy in Leeds said home prices in Berlin rose 20 percent between 2016 and 2017. In Kreuzberg, rent prices rose 71 percent in the same period.
Not all the protests were over gentrification. Many people claimed Google had "evil" practices - such as tax evasion and the unethical use of personal data, according to the BBC.
Karuna, a charity that helps disadvantaged children, said Google will pay 14 million euros ($16 million) toward renovation and maintenance for the next five years, reports the Financial Post.
More about Google, Berlin, local protests, startups, Incubator
 
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