Facebook is changing and London has a role to play
Today I met Rosie at an event for small businesses in London. She used to be a banker — and on her commute, she’d daydream about baking Victoria sponge cake with iced flowers. On weekends, she hosted cake decorating classes for other bakers at the village hall. When she wanted to reach more people, she created a Facebook page to share recipes, class details and pictures.
The Cake Masters page now reaches almost one million people. Its digital magazine, launched after Rosie quit her job in 2013, is the world’s largest cake decorating publication, with subscribers in over 80 countries. And four out of five subscribers found it through Facebook.
Rosie is proof that with access to technology people can turn their passions into professions. She runs one of the 140 million businesses that use Facebook to find new customers, grow and hire. Ninety-five per cent of businesses on our platforms use only our free tools, which level the playing field by giving businesses of all sizes reach once available only to big companies. Most can’t afford a TV ad or a billboard in Piccadilly Circus, but they can set up a free page to build community or spend £10 to reach new customers. This means more growth, more jobs and more competition — in London and around the world.
Today, we’re releasing a survey of more than 7,000 businesses in 15 European countries. According to the report, a joint effort with the consultancy Copenhagen Economics, Facebook helped these firms contribute about 200 billion euros to the European economy last year. Economists translate this to about three million jobs in Europe last year alone. We’re proud of our impact here, and we’ll continue to make sure people have the digital skills they need to participate fully in the economy. Over the past two years, we have trained more than a million people, including more than 150,000 in the UK.
To help more businesses reach their potential, we need to address the challenges of the internet. We know we did not invest enough in protecting privacy and security — and we’re changing. We’re taking stronger action to remove harmful content, stop election interference and protect privacy. Our teams work around the clock to achieve these goals and build great new products.
That includes staff in London. Ten years ago, we opened our first European office here. Now it’s our biggest engineering hub outside the US. We plan to hire another 1,000 people in London this year and open offices in King’s Cross in 2021. More than half of the jobs will be in software engineering and data science. Many will be engineers addressing the challenges of an open internet, developing AI tech to find and remove harmful content quicker.
We will continue to make the investments needed to keep our platform safe and help small businesses like Rosie’s succeed. With our latest expansion in London, we’ll do both better.
Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook