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Google keeps buying cloud companies to take on Amazon’s AWS

The latest acquisition is Orbitera.

2016 Wired Business Conference
Google SVP Diane Greene.
Brian Ach / Getty Images for Wired

When a team at Google is interested in a startup, they typically go to the company’s corporate development arm and ask, “Can we buy this?“

Over the past year, according to someone who recently left Google, those inbound requests have come most frequently from one unit: Enterprise.

Since Diane Greene took charge of Google’s cloud and apps units late last year, the group has been spending heavily, filling its ranks and absorbing smaller companies. Today it brought another: Orbitera, a five-year-old startup that automates billing and selling processes in the cloud.

Google is buying these companies because of one feature of the cloud storage business: Enterprises like to use multiple providers. Many give money to Amazon’s AWS, but, to hedge, will seek out others. Google benefits from making it easier to do that.

“Interoperability is going to reign. Nobody is going to be on one thing,” said Scott Broomfield, COO of cloud company Metavine. “Orbitera is a provider of tools that allow companies to create their own ecosystems, so that is a good tuck in for Google.”

Neither company shared the price tag for Orbitera, which had raised only $2 million.

But the deal fits with Google’s overall enterprise strategy. That, according to sources familiar with its plans, is to unify its sales organization — the previously disjointed teams that sold its cloud storage and apps for work products — in order to catch up to the more robust revenue engines from Microsoft and Amazon.

That strategy likely does not hinge on making a big acquisition, a la Microsoft’s $26.2 billion for LinkedIn. Instead, Google is eyeing smaller purchases that help it build out missing parts of its cloud, apps and marketing tech.

And that will keep adding to the unit’s personnel numbers. In May, Greene brought on Alison Wagonfeld, a well-known enterprise investor, as her CMO. Her hire splits Google’s top marketing role in two for the first time.

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