During Google's Big Tent Event last week, the room didn't feel quite as welcoming as I had anticipated. In the weeks leading up to it, Google had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and it seems even their most loyal supporters were feeling a tad disgruntled. Despite all the different themes and discussions the day had been arranged to discuss, there was only one issue on most peoples minds; Google's tax, or lack thereof. As Eric Schmidt was speaking towards the end of the day, there was an air of anticipation, and a need for direct questions to provide direct answers.
Ed Miliband spoke before Eric Schmidt arrived, and Ed was crystal clear with his views on the matter.
When Eric did arrive, Krishnan Guru-Murthy was quite blunt with his questions, and wouldn't let the matter go until Eric had given a few answers. However, once the floor had their chance to ask, the majority were all about tax. The Guardian had a live feed of the session, so you can read the questions and answers here. Perhaps the moment that gained the most amusement was when Schmidt had a slip of the tongue and accidentally said "Google is a capitalist country ... company. It's easy to say you would like us have less profits and have that somewhere else – we will comply with the letter of the law but we're trying to avoid being doubly and triply taxed which would prevent us investing in some of the wilder things."
For now, the message from both Google and the government is clear. Which one will have the final word? To discuss this further, come along to our Down The Pub event on Wednesday 29th May.