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Google Launches Cloud Platform for Startups (cloud.google.com)
280 points by fidotron on Sept 12, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments

> This offer is available to startups that meet the following criteria: > - In an approved Accelerator, Incubator or VC fund

Why is this a thing? Not everyone wants to build their startup through venture capital, or an accelerator. This just reinforces the existing "permission-based" startup ecosystem.

I really enjoy the dissonance between startup mythology (bold innovators who play by nobody's rules) and the very conservative reality, as expressed in eligibility criteria like this. Think different, in one of the approved ways.

Why this part of our industry is exempt from disruption, while everything else is fair game, is a source of constant wonder to me.

This is just Google's form of semi-automatic due diligence. Instead of them having to carefully vet each startup, determine that they're actually getting work done and are a real company and have at least some tiny bit of potential, they'll just defer to the accelerators and incubators to decide on that.

Remember they're giving away $100,000 of credit for free, so they have to make sure it's not being squandered.

I also agree that incubators and accelerators should never be seen as necessary to create a successful startup, and I don't think Google is claiming that either. This is just how they're handling risk. Remember this is a new platform for Google to make money, they're not just giving it away as charity.

Google has another program for startups without funding or accelerator program access.


I applied and received $500 in credit for free (also free access to online training and local events). To get 100k in credit would of course be nice, but I would have no way to spend that much in a year.

In the light of this two-tier startup program already existing a lot of comments in this thread become uninformed. Stop looking a gift horse in the mouth (unless it is a Trojan).

I don't dispute anything you say.

But the fact that they can make this an eligibility criterion speaks to the conformism in startup culture, and the gatekeeping role of a very small establishment.

The fact that they can make this an eligibility criterion speaks to the fact that they're giving you something you'd otherwise pay $100,000 for. If this deal is somehow keeping startups outside the gate then said startups must really have been screwed 3 hours ago when this deal didn't even exist.

This deal makes things worse for non accelerated/VC'd startups because now they're competing with companies who not only have funding but also have $100K in free hosting.

exactly! In effect subsidizing the very startups who have the money to pay for hosting. Absurd.

If a one-time $100K credit is the difference between success or failure in your business model, you have a pretty weak business model.

If you're trying to validate an idea, not having to worry about hosting costs for the first year or so could be a big deal. Especially if you're planning to sell out later to a larger company who has so much infrastructure already that hosting is practically free.

Hosting costs for validating an idea run about $10-20/month, not $10-20K/month. Get a shared webhost or VPS and run things on a single box. Even if you are using every programming productivity trick in the book (dynamic languages, 3rd party libraries, RDBMSes, etc.), there is no reason whatsoever why serving 20-100 users should cost $100K. Google had indexed the whole web and was serving most of the Stanford campus before they got their first check for $100K.

Do you think you could run a service equivalent to say Google Maps on $20/month hardware under the sort of load that might come from being on the front page of HN and reddit on the same day (Heck, even HN alone)?

Also consider if you are serving HD video or doing financial number crunching over a large data set in the background.


Remember that we're talking MVP here, not production service. If your service makes it to the front page of HN and then crashes under load, you go to YCombinator or some other accelerator, say "We built a service, it was so popular that it got to the top of Hacker News and then crashed under load. Here's the demo link, and we have a list of X thousand users who signed up to learn more before it crashed." You will be accepted, and then you will have access to the $100K in Google Cloud's program.

The one exception is if they feel that you lack the technical talent to build a scalable system even with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. In that case, they will tell you "Go find an ex-Googler or ex-FBer to be your technical cofounder and come back to us." In that case, $100K won't make much of a difference, you lack some critical skills to employ that $100K well. If that is your situation, well, I happen to be an ex-Googler with experience scaling Google Search who is in the market for a new project. I have my own ideas but would be happy to abandon them for something with demonstrated traction, so I would be happy to entertain e-mails (my address is in my profile) with a demo link and a spreadsheet with X thousand user signups.

If you need to run your service for longer than the few hours it takes to burn through all of the CPU/disk/bandwidth you can afford to be useful, or want to skip the incubator step it could certainly be useful to be able to apply directly.

It could also improve the value proposition for lower tier accelerators that might have a mentor network but lack the resources to support the infrastructure requirements of the most promising participants. If implemented properly, it should improve the visibility of regional players.

Nope. I would never pay $100k to Google as a startup, because there are more efficient ways to deploy that money.

I would, however, consider taking $100k in free hosting from google as a startup because making it free eliminates the cost consideration in hosting choices.

It's not keeping us out of the gate, it just that it reinforces the redefinition of startup to be "Silicon Valley VC type".

EG: 37 Signals would never have qualified, but they were a startup.

If you're actually spending $100k on hosting, one would hope you're making at least ten times as much. Otherwise, your engine of growth is fundamentally broken and you need to pivot.

Most startups need all the help they can get. Google has decided to provide help only to those who have sold their souls away. Seems rather evil to me.

Going through an accelerator mean you've "sold your soul"? That is a bit of a jump.

In a way it is. Accelerators have become two things: Pitch training camps and old-boys networks. The focus seems to be all about polishing a pitch, and faking stats for whatever part of your business needs to be faked to show traction of some kind, so that you can pitch to the old-boy network on demo day, get some money and go to work for the accelerators backers partners.

Startups long ago stopped being about building innovative business, and about VCs employing a bunch of kids to work really long hours on bad terms to make the VCs rich.

I think it is a legitimate criticism-- not ad hominem-- to say the Bay Area model has produced a bunch of soulless startups. Though of course some do follow this path and still retain their souls.

I'm uncomfortable with your generalizations (though you did account for exceptions with your last sentence).

I guess I would not be so pessimistic and give founders the benefit of the doubt that they think they are building something innovative (a word that means different things to different people).

The summer YC class had a fusion startup and a fission startup if I recall correctly. That is innovation in my book. And I think most startups are trying to change the status quo even to a small extent.

And why does a startup even need to be innovative? In this great talk by the founder of Asana (http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=3117) the point was made that while they're not curing diseases their software helps the people that are stay organized and save time.

Obviously I'm jumping to a point beyond the notion of a soul.

Nice branding with "accelerator". What do you think one is trading for money? Even in a simple equity trade you are giving up more than just equity... you are also putting on a leash which will alter your original being. VC's and soul trading aside, it's the exclusion part that makes the deed evil.

And yeah, I expected down voting from a group of people flocking to a VC forum like HN.

OK how about they give away $95k of credit and spend the $5k difference on due diligence? Now obviously to some extent I'm being facetious as of course the economics don't work exactly like this, but Microsoft's BizSpark offers Azure credits and has managed to be free for years without abuse being a significant issue.

It seems likely that if Google made available an offering of, say, $100/mo with strings similar to BizSpark attached that it'd still be attractive to at least a few startups.

Partly because $100k credit likely costs them $5k in the first place..

If someone actually spends all 100k of the credit, there is no doubt that the electricity involved cost more than 5k. There are certainly margins, but if the margin was 95%, then as Bezos says, "Your margin is my opportunity."

"so they have to make sure it's not being squandered"

Because, of course, no VC-backed company EVER wastes any money.

I feel obligated to point out that Microsoft Bizspark will give you free software/services for 3 years and it is "one guy working from his kitchen table"-friendly. If you're building things, they will give you stuff.

Bonus: You can help support underdog upstarts like Microsoft against uncaring tech titans like Google.

Wow, did they change the name of their thing again?

I am really leery of these various clouds. They are like architectural catnip-using them requires you to use an order of magnitude greater resources than you would on a single server, but it's really fun to assemble the moving parts.

I feel like some people don't fully recognize how much you can do on a single tiny machine in 2014 if you don't have 29 abstraction layers under you.

It's not just that the cloud stuff is inefficient, but that it's so much fun to write services across ten ephemeral nodes and play with all the cool tooling, instead of hanging your head and learning the simple apache config that will enable you to do the equivalent stuff on a budget linode.

Having done both, I have a few comments.

Primarily, I hate to tell you, but Linode is now a "cloud" provider; "Cloud Hosting" is the headline on their homepage.

- Nothing stops you from running your full stack on a single large EC2 or GCE or Linode instance.

- Unfortunately, running your whole stack on a single server is a great way to experience a lot of pain when growing or when you write a runaway SQL query that burns all the CPU on the box and starves your Apache server, causing page loads to be multiple seconds and turning away potential users/customers/investors.

- Managing your own OS is a great way for guys who are great at writing Java but not experienced with Linux to have a ton of painful distractions that don't contribute towards building a successful product. Nobody's going to buy your SaaS app because your kernel is always up to date.

- The phrase "the server went down so we can't currently operate our business" drives me absolutely insane in 2014.

BizSpark is called BizSpark since a long time.

BizSpark is not their cloud offering, it's simply their program for giving away software licenses to startups

As part of the MSDN Ultimate benefit you also get $150/month of Azure credits. You also get the Linux rate on Windows VMs, and for dev / test purposes you can run any MSDN software at no additional charge.


Ah, thank you!

I think the value of the platform lies in the fact that the time you spend in implementing a lot of the features needed for a large traffic/heavy load application (caching, load balancing, replication, storage, queries) is mostly saved by the framework and by Google infrastructure.

This time then can be spent in the actual product, which for a startup I believe it´s a good thing, since providing a good service is something expected by a potential user, but it´s not really going to sell your product.

+1 for BizSpark.

It got me and 2 friends $150/month in Azure credits, and access to all the Microsoft stack.

They give up to $60.000 to Y Combinator startups and others, see this post:

"Hey guys, Felix from Microsoft here. Some of you may know me as the guy who's working with YC companies. A quick PSA: We sponsor YC companies with $60,000 in free Azure usage. Get in touch with me at felix.rieseberg@microsoft.com if you have any questions!"


In my case it worked out well because it's the stack I use at work, I commented on it here:


I still haven't leveraged it like I should (we abandoned the project, but I hope to pick it up and take it to the MVP stage during a short vacation at end of this month)

Anybody who knows me knows that I'm not a Microsoft fan... I'm an old-school "open source" guy who thinks of M$ as the "Evil Empire" and that Gates/Borg picture is still kinda how I picture gates.

And I think BizSpark is a great program. IF you are interested in running on the MS platform, or want to integrate with MS "stuff" you can't beat it. Enrollment is simple and painless, it lasts for 3 years, etc. It's one of the things that I'll happily "give the devil his due" for.

There I said something positive about Microsoft. Now I guess I need to go click some rosary beads and say 3 "Our Stallmans" and 5 "Hail Raymonds". :-)

You mention it in passing, but it's very important. "Integration" is hard when you never have a copy, BizSpark is at the least, a free windows testing vm, why make it harder to test on windows.

Yes, that was our main reason for joining BizSpark, to be honest. We're a "pure play open source" company and absolutely favor running on OSS / Free Software platforms, and we encourage people to fun our products on Linux, a BSD UNIX, etc. But, in real-life, Windows, Office, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc. are out there, close to ubiquitous, and sometimes you have to work with that stuff. So BizSpark is a great way to get your hands on all of the MS "stuff" for testing, integration, etc.

Bizspark will also give you $60,000 worth of Azure credit. You have to get in touch with them and they interview you. Not exactly sure what their criteria are, but I'm part-time at a place that got the $60K Azure and it's been really helpful.

Do you need to be using Microsoft technology at your start up?

Apparently not - you can use what you like I believe.


Also,I just found this, by looking at an old HN thread about BizSpark:


BizSpark is amazing. A+++++ would recommend.

Bonus 2: you can support MS monopoly on desktop by using their blessed Windows-only tooling (VS.NET)

I'm currently deploying a Go application with a mongodb datastore to a Ubuntu server on Azure. I program using vim on my Mac laptop.

I think with Apple and Google's competition, we're well past the point of caring about Microsoft's shrinking desktop monopoly.

I think the point being made was that the technology everything is built on, is nix. Except Microsoft technologies. If you build something for nix it can be easily ported or inserted into Android apps, OS X apps, iOS apps, linux distributions, hosted anywhere, etc. But not easily ported or inserted into Windows or Windows server.

The same is true in reverse. You start using Microsoft technologies you are trapped there. So, they should really offer a lot more benefits at a lower cost than they are.

e: Glad I chimed in on this downvoted thread to say something completely evident. Thanks.

Migth sound good in theory but in reality not so much. Porting an app from iOS to Android. Rewrite. Using the google cloud apis and moving to amazon or azure. Rewrite. All vendors want platform lock in. The underlying tech is really fairly irrelevant.

I think Windows is optional

> Why is this a thing?

Because this isn't free for Google, so they are expending resources building relationships with the customers they think are most likely to provide more business in the future; so they aren't giving to any small business, they are giving it to businesses that have been vetted by groups they trust and are receiving capital with some kind of plan for expansion that would grow the startup's business -- and therefore the business that Google would see from the startup if the startup stayed on Google's platform.

> Not everyone wants to build their startup through venture capital, or an accelerator.

Sure, but the cost to Google to vet each individual startup to see if they were the kind of potential customer they'd like to expend these resources for would drive up the cost of providing the service. Google isn't a charity, its a for-profit business.

$100,000 in service credits plus 1:1 technical architecture reviews plus 24/7 support isn't something even Google can afford to provide to everyone.

So they outsource the work of screening by instead screening a smaller number of accelerators, incubators, etc.

It's up to $100K credit, not all startups may use all of their credits. And this is not the cost to Google.

But nitpicking aside, why not have two tiers, one $100k for approved startups, and another with, say, $10k credit and with some support.

Google championed the idea that the road to classification success is a (relatively) simple algorithm paired with a lot of data. This way they could get hundreds, if not thousands of startups to hone their company success estimation algorithms.

If you don't have at least some approval process then people will just take advantage of your free credits by running minecraft servers or mining dogecoins.

It's not perfect, but what's a better way?

There's a million people who could use this $100k to mine bitcoins, run personal servers, do scientific calculations, or more. Google isn't interested in those people: they want to lock in companies and keep them there as they grow quickly. If you worked at Google, what would you propose to catch these long-term valuable customers, without giving away a ton of free infrastructure?

As there is another million people bootstrapping their businesses. What they should do is to find additional criteria to augment the startup validation process. A very simple criteria would be to maintain a front-facing service that provides value to consumers, excluding: bitcoin mining, run malware, etc.

And who verifies these things? How often? And by what rules? And why bother, when just limited it to accelerator startups is much easier and most likely will pick up the majority of successful long term startups anyway? I don't like it either, but it's obviously a logical move.

By screening for "you are in an accelerator" you not only have ensured some due diligence has been done, but you also know someone else's money is on the line, so they will keep tabs on them.

University partnership? GSOC competition? AWS customers with high month-over-month revenue & traffic growth and less than 10 employees? There are many ways of triaging worthy candidates and involving the broader tech community, without further advantaging the already over-advantaged.

AWS customers with high month-over-month revenue & traffic growth and less than 10 employees?

Seems a little late to lure them into the Google Platform.

If a startup has baked in dependencies on AWS services, yes.

But if some startups have planned for portability and would rather stretch their OpEx runway instead of paying Amazon, switching could make sense.

I'm in the early stages of planning a startup that we'll likely bootstrap. I would use Google's cloud if this was a thing, and probably not switch later because our proposed design doesn't leverage much in the way of AWS stuff (about the only thing is SQS, but that's hidden behind an AMQP facade).

We have an email address on the landing page for folks like you -- cloudplatformstartups@google.com -- ping us, send us details, we'll get you over and take care of you. It's really more for recommending the intermediaries but it's a way to contact us -- so take the initiative :) The sentiment here is largely correct -- accelerators, VC's and others provide a great way to prevent fraud and other issues that programs like these deal with. We also offer $500 credit vouchers for folks who want to tinker and we are working on other ways (stay tuned) for people who want to evaluate for free to do so.

Hope this helps --

-Brian head of marketing, google cloud platform

Except for the fact the luring is the goal of the program.

Hum, yes, that's my point.

Where are you seeing evidence of lock-in? Compared to the financial lock-in of having plunked down $$ on servers, most cloud players seem pretty open to me.

Starting a business was quite possibly the first thing in my life that I didn't need to ask anyone's permission for. You don't need Google's, YC's, or a VC's blessing to start. You might need it to get their money, but startup costs for many software companies are asymptotically approaching zero.

If I could change one thing about business culture in Europe, it would be this. You just start doing something and the paperwork, permits, accounting and so on can all come later. It's a wonderful feeling.

My impression is that you can't get started in the EU without at least a little up-front paperwork.

In NL it is like that. You can start a business personally and later convert it into a legal vehicle of your chosing, or not at all. When you want to claim back VAT there are some hoops to jump through, but a 'single proprietor company' without shares does not need an act of incorporation to be active.

You rarely need permits (if you sell food or medication or something like that you do), you will need to do your filings but you can usually get them deferred for the first year.

In the UK, which is technically EU, you can pretty much just start, depending what it is exactly.

I think of the UK as much closer in business culture to the US in this respect.

In the UK its actually easier to start a business than it is in the US, and the associated costs are significantly less. *(as someone who has started companies in both the UK and US)

Appreciate your comment, but the act of starting the business is not what I was referring to. Obviously the cost of running a small startup is effectively zero for all practical purposes.

I'm talking about the VC/accelerator-backed startups that gain traction and mindshare, solely because of "permission" (otherwise stated "a nod") from VC's or accelerators, when other, better products may exist. The very fact that this program largely eliminates/discriminates against an entire swath of entrepreneurs who DONT want to move to Silicon Valley is closer to my point.

Google probably doesn't want every Kickstarter/Indiegogo project applying for the program. It's likely a risk thing; if the startup is backed by a "real" VC firm, that firm is taking most of the risk. Google is just providing a few extra rungs on the ladder others built.

It's effectively a subsidy to accelerators: $100K of risk capital being matched by $100K of hosting, doubling the initial runway for a startup which needs that level of capacity.

Though that $100k balance expires in a single year.

If your server bills are $100k for a first year start-up company, you are doing something VERY VERY wrong.

Or very, very right.

If revenue is 10X your server bills or is growing much faster than server costs, then you're exactly the customer Google wants for their cloud services.

> "permission-based" startup ecosystem.

What's that?! Startups are getting easier and easier to start with no VC involvement, and there is a large community of people doing bootstrapping.

If anything, I'd question who is voting this article up. It's of little use to most of us.

You realize that you are writing in a news site hosted by a startup accelerator, right ?

I can´t think of many other places where it would be more relevant.

The number of people who are in some way part of YC here are far outnumbered by those of us just reading the site, so, yeah, most of us are not really going to be directly affected by this.

For what it's worth, folks with their own unfunded startup are free to use services from other places. For people in an accelerator or funded by a VC, this is a meaningful service that could extend their runway a bit.

Of course, it also locks them into Google's ecosystem (practically) when they do hit it big - but I think that's obvious upfront. Why should Google, a for-profit company, gain nothing for its $100,000 (at most)? If you are in one of those accelerators and have a concern about being tied to Google, you're, again, free to go elsewhere.

Couldn't agree more, I even go as far to say Google seem a little out of touch here. Would this offer have helped Google become Google, probably not.

It's how they're handling risk, so that they can give away the $100,000 in credit without having to spend a lot of time doing due diligence and confirming that a certain startup company is at least somewhat feasible.

This isn't charity, their goal is to lose money initially and make it up in the long run. They only want to give it to startups who will be likely to spend lots of money after year 1. This is a simple way of making sure the company has money.

This program is a scalable way to find growth startups that are validated and on pathway to revenue. It's not an open check book. If you don't meet the criteria for this program, I'm sure there are options for you. Google is actively looking for startups of all types and are willing to invest resources. I recommend talking with an account manager (ping me if you want a starting point).

It may be seen as a decent way for accomplishing due diligence. Most accelerator programs will check out the company, product and team. This also helps Google avoid being the first investor in as most accelerators usually invest in projects in their program. That being said, you can still use Google's services for free as long as you're below the cap.

A possible explanation might be that startups that have been selected in these accelerators have more potential to become successful businesses in the future (either in raising money or in building something people want). I mean, someone already placed a bet on them.

You get the free cloud for only a year. After that you start paying, and since you’re already there it’s very likely that you’ll proceed with Google. So, they’re not giving away anything, they’re just trying to grab market share before the competitors.

Completely agree ... Except from Googles point of view they will otherwise be in the position of deciding "real startups" from wannabes and then deciding which ones are most likely to succeed. At which point google becomes worlds biggest incubator.

But yes, I think many many governments could do a lot worse than say "have you got a business plan and two paying customers? Here have enough money to live on, got off the dole and we have 15% equity if you become the next standard oil."

> At which point google becomes worlds biggest incubator.

And Google has already setup and helped to setup a bunch of startup incubators, so it makes sense to leverage that investment rather than duplicating effort.

I would guess it's a cheap way to try to target the offer to people actually trying to build companies (vs hobbyists or established companies)

It's a thing because it's easier and cheaper to let others do the hard job of selecting hopeful startups. Cuts down on abuse, too.

My partner and I feel this way, but we often feel entirely alone in the opinion. It's refreshing to see it written here, knowing that there are others of this mindset.

Yeah. This was pretty disappointing for me. I'm in the process of starting a company with a friend, but neither of us are 18 yet, so the chances of us getting into an accelerator or VC fund are next to zero (not that it's going to stop us from applying). We could have really used this service.

Oh well. I understand why Google is doing it, but it's still disappointing.

What are you working on? Maybe I can help?

It's an image-search site. We have the core product (searches) about 99% finished. We're mostly trying to make the frontend as responsive and intuitive as we want it to be.

I want to work on it with my partner a little bit more before we get outside technical help. I'll keep you in mind, though.

Yep, I got really excited about this for our bootstrapped app www.staffsquared.com only to read the small print and realise we couldn't use this as we're not VC backed. Very frustrating.

Small print? May I suggest you reset your browser zoom level?


The eligibility criteria is not something specific to Google .

Almost every cloud hosting provider has similar criteria, and I think it makes sense from their perspective that a Funded/ Accelerated startup is more likely to become a paid customer .




Remember that you can start using the platform for free, today.

They have free daily quotas (I know for certain in the case of GAE, but I believe for the other services as well), which are kind of low, but good enough for proofs of concept and prototyping.

Still, this is a commercial product, and running it implies a cost to Google.

Thinking that they would give away 100K worth of services to anybody that asks for it is unrealistic.

I don't believe there are any services other than GAE with free tiers.

Edit: someone mentioned bigquery, which I haven't verified but seems plausible.

Between the lines: Google has calculated that

ExpectedLockinValue(given(ventureFunded)) + SillyPRBoost.value > ExpectedUsage($100k/yr)

Or, in other words, Google believes for the venture-funded cohort, giving you a $100k option now will set them up to take significantly more later. They also don't want to spend any effort administrating (vetting) this program.

I don't think this is confusing or insulting. Google's cards are plainly on the table, and as always they're here to make a profit.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the most obvious (and innocuous) motivation: to expose young developers to google's cloud platform so that they'll be comfortable with it when they become big-time CTOs in a few years.

The network effects for cloud services are nowhere near as strong as they were for operating systems (end users don't care which underlying platform is used) but there is an advantage to having more developers familiar with your service.

This makes the most sense to me as motivation for this kind of give-away. Both familiarity to soon-to-be-promoted techs, as you said, and establish themselves as the system to migrate AWAY FROM.

To have the first $100k of server time's code written on their platform is not meaningless. Perhaps I'm a sub-par wizard, but host migrations are a very real pain point in my experience. With $100K's worth of time spent developing on Google's platform, that pain would be pretty well developed by the time a startup would get around to worrying about it.

Yes, I think it's clear that this is not charity, but spending <=$100,000 on EXTREMELY well-targeted advertising.

Google gets a customer and free advertising, the company gets 100k worth of free computing resources. It's called a "win-win." It's not quite a "free lunch," but it's "one of the main ways in which healthy business gets done."

Not to nitpick, but the site states $100K for 1 year, which seems like a "use or lose" type deal. So if your start up doesn't burn through that much in hosting/storage/computing, you aren't really getting $100k in free computing resources.

For all of you worried that this is for VC-backed startups only, Google offers $500 coupon codes (which should be plenty to bootstrap a concept). Feel free to ping me.

In addition, both AppEngine and BigQuery have free usage tiers.

I'm not being snarky I honestly think you may misunderstand the term bootstrapping. We, for example, are not making a profit yet and would go through that ($500) in less than 3 weeks.

The only difference between bootstrapping and incubators is where the funding comes from.

Can I get $500 worth of Adwords? :)

Offering a very large freebie to a relatively very small no. of "qualifying" start-ups all of whom already have a degree of mentoring and investment sends an interesting message about Google's world-view and objectives. If they'd offered a small freebie to a large number of much more liberally defined start-ups, I would have been much more impressed.

This has no relevance at all to my own modest start-up, but feels like a gratuitous poke in the eye, and makes me think less of Google for having a tin ear. I'm sure that they've teased and disappointed many more people with that headline than this programme will help.

The did offer Google Apps for Business for free for years to anybody who called themselves a business.

You can still use almost all of their services for your business (Drive, Apps, Gmail) for free. They'll even give you a free phone number and voicemail box.

I'd call all of that more than a small freebie.

Sure - and I've used many of those facilities (still am, in fact), and I appreciate them.

My intended point was really their miscommunication here - they exclude well over 99% of the organisations that consider themselves start-ups, and so the headline sets many up for disappointment. A better choice of wording would have sent a very different message.

I have to agree with a lot of the comments here, the very people who need the help. The ones who are doing it the hard way, striking out on their own and grafting on only their own money/debt could really do with a helping hand here and there.

But time after time we're disqualified because we're not in an incubator. Our businesses are our incubators, our customers are our incubators.

Why not woo us? Why not offer us some help so we get hooked into your products?

I'd love to see the stats on survival rates between bootstrapped and funded :-)

Come on guys, stop adding the 'approved accelerator' nonsense - startup != accelerator !

I'd say that if you want to fund a startup with $100,000 you go meet that startup and get to know it very well. Google is relying on somebody else to make that assessment so my guess is that the cost of those services to Google is much lower than those $100,000, maybe much much lower than that. They sure have unused capacity in their server farm, network, storage, etc. I'm not saying that they're doing an advertising stunt for free but $100,000 worth of anything doesn't necessarily means that $100,000 are leaving Google's pockets.

This is just a clever ploy to get the most promising start-ups locked in before they realize they're paying through the nose for a commodity.

And don't forget that it's credits not money.

You can't take this and spend it at leaseweb or digitalocean if that's your preferred way of solving things, nor will they pay you to dis-entangle from the lock-in once you want to move.

Help me see the lock-in: you run Docker containers on managed VM's, and if you want to move them somewhere else, well, you do. ?

Provisioning, scaling, storage.

kubernetes, python, riak. certainly myriad options at each of those tiers which are OSS, easily deployable on cloud/on-premise, and well understood. If those things are a challenge for your org, I'd recommend that a Cloud provider might be the way to go!

This really speaks to Amazon's dominance in the space. Over the past year I've been approach by Google reps with increasingly insane offers of free hosting. This move seems to be a whole new level.

I still wonder "is it worth not doing something on Amazon?" $100k is a lot of money, but how much will most startups spend on hosting in the first year anyway? Unless you're specifically focused on infrastructure, in which case you probably won't choose your provider (i.e. the key partner in your business) based on free credit.

Hmm... it seems like the data captured from a service like this would be very valuable to Google's venture arm. Even if they can't inspect the details of your environment, I'm sure they're still privy to metadata like resource utilization, deploy frequency, what stack you're on, etc. They'll be able to sort a bunch of early-stage startups on this information and cherry-pick the ones with the best characteristics without holding a single meeting.

My biggest objection is the "approved VC" rule. Being from Washington DC, if I were to create a startup and get funding, am I on the approved list? I doubt they would have heard of the VCs out here (I don't know of many tech VCs).

Seems like it will be really easy for them just to pick big names, change/bend the rules for them to ensure they make a lot of money. It is good for their bottom line but bad for most out there.

Or you should just email them and state your case regardless of if you're on the list or not. Remember they are human beings on the receiving end of that email. I doubt they are getting swarmed by emails and wouldn't mind hearing from you. The worst thing that happens is they say no or ignore you and that's that.

> I doubt they are getting swarmed by emails


> and wouldn't mind hearing from you.

Probably not :)

> I doubt they would have heard of the VCs out here

Then those VCs should write to CloudPlatformStartups@google.com and get themselves added to the list.

This is only for incubated startups: "In an approved Accelerator, Incubator or VC fund"

But if moving off your current platform and to Google's worth it? One year goes fast.

It's moving the other way that will get you.

And that will likely wipe out any savings and then some.

Moving to GCP takes a bit of an idealogical shift, but moving off Google is pretty simple if you use AppScale. That might be the best option for these startups; take advantages of the free services from Google and move away after a year if you need to.

AppScale is an alternative implementation of AppEngine, but AppEngine isn't the whole of Google Cloud Platform.

Yeah, there are some horror stories eg. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1927903

4 years old that, things may be better now.

I'm not eligible, but this could still be positive for me... if it means Google Cloud starts supporting a greater range of programming languages. Right now the options are very limited compared to something like EC2.

You must be talking about AppEngine specifically, which is PaaS (Elastic Beanstalk is similar, and only supports a handful of languages as well).

Google Compute Engine doesn't have PaaS-like restrictions, much like EC2.

Asking myself how this makes business sense. Answering myself that it only does if Google hits a homerun based on:

+ Vendor/plat-form lock-in.

+ Data mining startups' traffic.

+ Access to startups' code and data.

+ Ability to pull the plug.

For Vendor/Platform lock-in this could be virtual, ie the burden of switching the code base for administrative tasks to Amazon or Azure or some other provider could be prohibitive. Likewise for architectural layout.

In the bigger picture, is this a first foray into the space where MicroSoft Bizspark lives?


Points 2-4 would involve Google violating (likely) their own Ts&Cs with customers and (possibly?) state/federal law.

But I think your Point 1 is highly likely. How many startups are going to build on Google's Cloud Platform, then after a year port everything to AWS, particularly if Google can prove that they're cheaper or at least cost-competitive with similar feature set. (Assuming that's true, of course, and that you don't need something specific to AWS)

Just to reinforce this... (I am a Google Cloud Platform engineer)

Google's internal data, which is mined (and audited), and the Cloud datacenters/data, are hosted entirely separately (though that's as much to protect us from you as you from us).

We do not do anything with data stored by cloud platform customers.

What exactly prohibits the company for which you work from doing this, e.g. can you reference specific state or Federal laws or agency rules which prohibit this, or on the civil side, specific terms and conditions of the company's standard service contract?

Absent these, what is the business case for providing this service at no cost to the qualified companies?

As I indicated, I don't see a first order monetization strategy and the second order strategies I have proposed seem consistent with the second order strategies general employed by the company.

I don't know anything about the legal issues. I only know what our policies are. If you don't take my word for things, I won't be offended.

Regarding the business case, Google has a LOT of compute power. The cost of that compute power on the cloud platform is not the cost in hardware and electricity to Google, it also pays for the engineering. Whether or not people take up Google on the 100k offer, the engineering has been paid for, so really Google is only giving away the electricity and maintenance. I don't know (and if I did know I wouldn't say) how much of that 100k is actual realized cost for Google.

But however much it is, that is at most 100k of REALLY EXTREMELY WELL targeted advertising for the Google Cloud Platform. A customer that goes through 100k of Google compute resources in a year is likely one that would rather continue paying Google's competitive rates for the same services in the future.

How many startups are going to build on Google's Cloud Platform, then after a year port everything to AWS, particularly if Google can prove that they're cheaper or at least cost-competitive with similar feature set.

It's hardly lock-in if the reason for not leaving is "we're cheaper than the competition". That's just having a better offer.

Then it is exactly what it appears to be: a marketing incentive to get startups to try what Google believes to be a better offer! It might not be LOCK-in, but if it does the same thing (keep companies that are small but growing quickly on Google's Cloud Platform) then aren't we just quibbling over terminology?

(disclaimer: Xoogler here)

That's a good point. I think Google recognizes the value their cloud platform brings to early startups and wants to put their fears to rest about costs (at least the initial $100k).

But startups could easily use AppScale to move off Google and on to AWS/Digital Ocean etc. when they start to get real traction or when the free credits run out.


Agreed! AppScale is one option for GAE-oriented folks, or running using any of the obviously platform-agnostic methods (docker, mesos, for that matter chef, puppet, ansible, saltstack...).

Which of the terms and services do you think it would violate?

From the general terms and services:

   The rights you grant in this license are for the limited
   purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our
   Services, and to develop new ones. [1]
"To develop new [services]" covers a Google pretty well if it chooses to do any of the activities I mentioned.

In addition, the cloud services have this extension:

   Google may change these terms from time to time and post
   any modified terms at http://developers.google.com/site-
   terms. You understand and agree that if you use the 
   Service after the date on which these terms have 
   changed, Google will treat your use as acceptance of the 
   updated terms. [2]
It is not just that these terms are not subject to negotiation. It is that they place almost no limitation on Google's business practices.

[1] http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/

[2] https://developers.google.com/site-terms

You're looking at the wrong terms. These are the ones you want: https://developers.google.com/cloud/terms/

>Points 2-4 would involve Google violating (likely) their own Ts&Cs with customers and (possibly?) state/federal law

I don't think it does. Until recently, they seem to have been using the paid apps for Business e-mails to build advertising profiles with no repercussions.


I also don't think there's anything in the T&Cs for Google Drive(both free and business) that says that they won't use the contents of the docs for advertising purposes.

I think Google want to buy successful projects running already in their infrastructure, because integration steps are lengthy and hard in big companies.

So boostraped startups, like mine, that would need /profit from it the most, are explicitly excluded.

Well, Google, we didn't need your money anyway.

It's not money, it's credits.

This headline is pretty misleading. It should be Google Launches Cloud Platform for Startups That Are Part Of Approved Accelerators

I wish bootstrapped startups were also eligible.

One word: $100k

Of Cloud Platform credit.

Still it could mean quite a bit for storage/bandwidth/instance intensive apps.

If nothing else, use the hardware to mine bitcoins and convert to cache for more runway.

Mining bitcoins on a cloud platform is a net loss even if the CPU time is free: it'll take you more labor time to set up than you'll gain. If you burn $100k in Google Cloud compute time on mining across hundreds of machines, you'll net something like $30.

Your calculations are horrifically wrong.

Have you taken a look at what CPU mining pays recently? It's a rounding error from zero. A modern Xeon does around 5-10 Mhash/core/s, while ASIC mining is measured in Ghash/s. Leave it on for a year and you'll mine an upper bound of 0.00004-0.00008 BTC/core, according to https://alloscomp.com/bitcoin/calculator (that's even discounting future difficulty increases, so is an optimistic estimate). That's 2-4 cents/core/year. If you have 1000 such cores going full-stop for the year, you'll net... $20-$40.

Bitcoin isn't the only cryptocurrency.

I think his calculations are off, but his general point is pretty accurate. If you're doing pure CPU mining, even $100k worth of hardware won't generate you that much money per week.

As a pure guess I'm going to assume the actual return you'd see is a few hundred dollars per week.

Depends on the cryptocurrency, he used bitcoin in his follow up to my comment. CPU mining of bitcoin is horrendous (you can get a cheap USB stick that can mine as much as an expensive i7 processor) but other cryptocurrencies were specifically designed to make the gap between GPU and CPU mining much smaller and make ASICs not economically viable.

Please enlighten us then, what CPU mined crypto currency is best for this?

Any that use the CryptoNight algorithm

Which is why they're restricting it to folks from an approved list.

Cache is not the same thing as cash.

> convert to cache


for one year.

If you're eligible. Some of us are not.

This is awesome, now AWS will offer $150,000 to use theirs with no accelerator requirement.

Sounds like 150k in free bitcoins to whomever wants to jump on that deal, to me.

"In an approved Accelerator, Incubator or VC fund"

I also think this is a load of baloney.

Maybe it's different for the cloud platform, but while I love Google, and Google products, i'd never trust them to support my business. Support matters a lot, and Google hasn't established a good reputation there.

Azure is my choice for the moment.

I wonder what would be wrong with a few Digital Ocean or Kimsufi VPS or microserver systems? If managing your own server daemons is too hard, I wonder what that person is doing in the field of computing?

Trusting cheap vps company to host your business apps isn't a smart idea. Btw what makes you capable of deciding who should or shouldn't work in the field of computing?

Google and AWS provide a lot of things that Digital Ocean don't. Auto scaling to millions with Google, so much stuff with AWS that you can't keep track of it. (eg "Today, the AWS Marketplace contains more than 1,000 listings in 24 categories ranging from big data to bug-tracking to business intelligence"). That said for your typical startup with a small number of users the simpler providers may be the way to go.

No international Accelerator/Incubator?

Looks more like an act of desperation due to the fact that Google is quickly losing the cloud wars to Microsoft, Amazon & VMWare.

The "less than $500k in revenue" requirement is more limiting than one would think.

Focus on building your product and don't worry about complex infrastructure. Google manages your application, database, and storage servers so you don't have to.

Very seductive of simple minds. Congratulations, Google, you have discovered of how to start fishing for the bottom of the barrel ...

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