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Google Brass Set 2023 as Deadline to Beat Amazon, Microsoft in Cloud

The clock is ticking for Google Cloud.

The Google unit, which sells computing services to big companies, is under pressure from top management to pass Amazon or Microsoft—currently first and second, respectively, in cloud market share—or risk losing funding. While the company has invested heavily in the business since last year, Google wants its cloud group to outrank those of one or both of its two main rivals by 2023, said people with knowledge of the matter.

That timeline was devised early last year, after an intense monthslong debate among senior leaders at Google and its parent company Alphabet over the future of the cloud business, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told The Information. The group, which included Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat and then-CEO of Alphabet Larry Page, discussed whether Google could “win” in the business, who would be best to lead the effort and the difficulties of competing on things other than technology, such as sales and marketing. The group even talked about—and eventually dismissed—the idea of leaving the market entirely, this person said.

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Three weeks ago I wrote a column about how the Covid-19 crisis was likely to affect the future of tech companies and technology policy. Since then, I have spent more time considering the inverse question: How is the state of technology in 2020 playing a role in shaping our experience of, and response to, the Covid-19 pandemic?

Put differently, had the current Covid-19 incident occurred a few ...

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