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Eric Schmidt: ‘Big data is so powerful, nation states will fight’ over it

Google grabbed five major clients for its cloud business.

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt Discusses Disruption In Technology
Alphabet's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
Win McNamee / Getty

Google announced Wednesday it had recently gained some major customers on its cloud platform: Verizon, Colgate, HSBC and eBay.

The message from Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt during a keynote highlighting the additions at the annual Google Cloud Next conference was that Google Cloud Platform, the smallest of three leading cloud providers, has matured.

“We have the references now,” Schmidt said, later adding, “We’re here for real.”

The value that Google provides customers, he argued, lies mostly in its tools for analyzing data. He said big data is so powerful that nation states will fight over it.

Google’s cloud business was previously estimated to have an annual revenue runrate of about $1 billion, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney, trailing Amazon Web Services’ $12.2 billion and Microsoft Azure’s estimated $2.7 billion. Verizon, one of Google’s newest clients, was lured away from Microsoft, according to Bloomberg.

Most of Google’s revenue appears to be coming from Snap, which has a $2 billion contract with Google cloud for five years. That company is the one Schmidt said he wants other prospective clients to look to as an example of the success clients stand to gain. Snap also has a $1 billion contract with AWS.

The company also announced it would be working with SAP to offer Google cloud services to SAP customers. Customers that already use both services will be able to use them together more easily.

SAP also uses cloud services from Amazon and Azure. But Google isn’t sharing all of its spoils: Bloomberg reported that Verizon took its business away from Microsoft when it moved 150,000 employees over to Google’s G Suite productivity tools.

“Last year what I said was, ‘We will meet you where you are,’” Schmidt said. “What I thought of this year is, ‘Just get to the cloud now.’”

The company also announced the acquisition of Kaggle, a company that hosts competitions for data scientists and maintains a job board of data science jobs. A Google blog post describes the startup as an online community of data scientists and machine learning programmers, with 800,000 users.

This post is updated to reflect SAP’s status as a strategic partner of Google Cloud.

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