Google Hooks Startups With $100K Worth of Free Cloud
Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior VP of technical infrastructure at Google, at 2014 Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Google Hooks Startups With $100K Worth of Free Cloud

Offers credit to early-stage firms backed by major VCs, incubators, accelerators

Google is offering early-stage startups that meet certain criteria $100,000 worth of services available on the Google Cloud Platform, which includes everything from Infrastructure- and Platform-as-a-Service to Database-as-a-Service and APIs for a handful of application services.

The company says the move is aimed at attracting more developers to its cloud. Startups with relatively complex applications that do make the move, however, are likely to stay with Google when their credit runs out if they see business momentum, since shifting applications from one type of infrastructure is a complicated and lengthy process.

Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, announced the program Friday at the Google for Entrepreneurs Global Partner Summit.

Google is competing tooth-and-nail with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure for public cloud market share. All three have been continuously reducing cloud prices and growing feature sets available on their cloud platforms, but AWS IaaS services continue to be in the lead in terms of popularity.

There is also a lot of competition for developer dollars in the PaaS space, which has more big players, such as Salesforce’s Force.com and Red Hat’s OpenShift. The PaaS market is becoming more crowded with the push behind Cloud Foundry, an open source PaaS created by EMC’s Pivotal and adapted by a number of big IT players, including HP and IBM.

Google is not the first to offer free infrastructure services to small companies to hook them. In another recent example, data center provider Digital Realty Trust announced a startup contest in July, where the winner will get a free 4kW cabinet with power and fiber connectivity in any of Digital’s data centers around the world where colocation services are available.

Qualified companies for Google’s program have less than $5 million in funding and less than $500,000 in annual revenue. They also have to be associated with one of the incubators, accelerators and investors Google is extending the offer through.

A partial list of partners is available online and the company is accepting nominations of incubators or venture capital firms if they’re not on its list. It currently includes Tech Stars, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, AngelPad and Google Ventures, among others.

The deal includes credit for cloud services as well as around-the-clock support.

Among startups that have already built applications on the platform are video- and photo-sharing company Snapchat and the successful online education non-profit Khan Academy. Another well-known user is the Mayday Super PAC, a grassroots political non-profit organized by Harvard Law professor and activist Lawrence Lessig to get big money out of U.S. politics.

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