Google faces new antitrust law in Europe


“We are an example of the consequences,” said Michal Feix, former chief executive of Seznam, who now directs its policy and legal work as an outside consultant. Without the new laws, he said, “you just can’t compete.”

Google said its success in the Czech Republic was the result of delivering superior service. Czechs “choose our products because they help people find the information they’re looking for — and because we make thousands of improvements every year,” Google said in a statement.

In the Czech Republic, the history of Seznam goes back to an early enthusiasm for the Internet.

Ivo Lukacovic, the founder and owner of Seznam, recalled a childhood without much money; his family had no car or color television. As a teenager in 1989, when the country was still part of Czechoslovakia, he joined his classmates in mass protests, known as the Velvet Revolution, which helped bring down the ruling Communist Party.

“The regime has collapsed and the era of economic freedom has begun,” Mr Lukacovic said on a recent windy morning outside Prague. “Since I was playing with computers, I went to college,” he added.

At 22, Mr. Lukacovic dropped out of the Czech Technical University in Prague after creating Seznam, which means “list” in Czech. It started as a recommendation site of about 10 Czech websites to visit. A search engine was added in 1998; e-mail, cards and other services arrived in the years that followed.

The company continued to grow after Google opened in the country in 2006. Seznam’s search engine was adapted for Czech speakers and added services such as unlimited email storage to track Google offers . In 2008, the Czech Republic, whose population of 10.5 million is roughly the size of North Carolina, was the only place in the European Economic Area of ​​31 countries where Google was not the main search engine.

In 2010, Seznam’s position began to change. Google had invested heavily in improving its non-English language services and had tried to endear itself to Czech citizens through efforts such as digitizing ancient books housed in the 18th-century baroque library in the old city ​​of Prague.

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