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.
Why this part of our industry is exempt from disruption, while everything else is fair game, is a source of constant wonder to me.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Because, of course, no VC-backed company EVER wastes any money.
Bonus: You can help support underdog upstarts like Microsoft against uncaring tech titans like Google.
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.
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 not their cloud offering, it's simply their program for giving away software licenses to startups
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.
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 email@example.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)
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". :-)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Seems a little late to lure them into the Google Platform.
But if some startups have planned for portability and would rather stretch their OpEx runway instead of paying Amazon, switching could make sense.
Hope this helps --
head of marketing, google cloud platform
My impression is that you can't get started in the EU without at least a little up-front paperwork.
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.
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.
If your server bills are $100k for a first year start-up company, you are doing something VERY VERY wrong.
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.
I can´t think of many other places where it would be more relevant.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Oh well. I understand why Google is doing it, but it's still disappointing.
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.
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 .
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.
Edit: someone mentioned bigquery, which I haven't verified but seems plausible.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, both AppEngine and BigQuery have free usage tiers.
The only difference between bootstrapping and incubators is where the funding comes from.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
> and wouldn't mind hearing from you.
Probably not :)
Then those VCs should write to CloudPlatformStartups@google.com and get themselves added to the list.
And that will likely wipe out any savings and then some.
4 years old that, things may be better now.
Google Compute Engine doesn't have PaaS-like restrictions, much like EC2.
+ 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?
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
(disclaimer: Xoogler here)
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.
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. 
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. 
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.
Well, Google, we didn't need your money anyway.
Still it could mean quite a bit for storage/bandwidth/instance intensive apps.
As a pure guess I'm going to assume the actual return you'd see is a few hundred dollars per week.
I also think this is a load of baloney.
Azure is my choice for the moment.
Very seductive of simple minds. Congratulations, Google, you have discovered of how to start fishing for the bottom of the barrel ...