Amazon and Have a New Threat: Google

Google is slashing prices for its cloud services. What does this mean for Amazon and

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:00PM

For the last decade, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have been two of the most disruptive companies in the world, forcing widespread changes in just about every area of business each company pursues. Surprisingly, neither company has really taken aim at the other -- that is, until now, in the lucrative and highly valuable cloud. Recent moves by Google could significantly impact Amazon and peer (NYSE:CRM)

Amazon running away with the cloud business?
Amazon is best-known as a giant online retailer, but outside that business lies a fast-growing and enormous cloud business. Amazon's cloud segment is conveniently called Amazon Web Services, or AWS. It provides services for cloud infrastructure, laaS, and app platforms, PaaS.

According to Synergy Research, AWS grew 55% in the bottom half of last year in an overall laaS/PaaS market that grew 46%. Combined, the laaS/PaaS market generated more than $2.5 billion in the third quarter of last year, with laaS accounting for 64% of the total market. It is this arena where Amazon dominates its peers.


laaS market share

laaS Q3 revenue

PaaS market share

PaaS Q3 revenue



$560 million


$153 million


$48 million


$162 million



$48 million


$117 million

Amazon and Google are not dependent upon the cloud to maintain the growth of their overall business. However, is a pure cloud play, and it's lagging Amazon by a significant margin. Furthermore, given Amazon's 55% growth in laaS/PaaS, we know that it is gaining even more share on its peers, which might surprise some, given Google's strong grasp on the Internet as a whole.

It appears that Amazon is ready to run away with this market, leaving Google and in the dust.

Google: "Not so fast"
On Tuesday, Google threw a curveball into the equation: It slashed its laaS and PaaS prices by 32% and 30%, respectively, clearly trying to gain market share and to spark growth. Back in November 2012, Amazon made similar cuts to its own prices, and it was at this time that growth really took off and AWS began to steal market share.

This move by Google might have a similar effect, stealing share from smaller competitors and making it a real threat to Amazon. However, the bigger threat is companies like and Rackspace. earns about a quarter of its revenue in this space, and up until now has been able to spend aggressively on research and development, as well as sales, general, and administrative expenses. With Amazon and Google having lower prices, might have to lower costs, thus limiting its spending, which could hamper growth. At 80 times next year's earnings, this is quite a risk for investors of

Final thoughts
Late last year, Macquarie's Ben Schachter estimated that AWS brought in $3.8 billion in 2013, and that it would generate $6.2 billion and $8.8 billion in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Other analysts agree, such as Evercore, which sees AWS accounting for 13% of Amazon's total business by 2015. Thus, valuations for AWS alone are estimated at $50 billion, or 30% of Amazon's market capitalization.

For Google, mirroring or exceeding AWS could be very lucrative for shareholders, perhaps adding another $50 billion to its $390 billion market capitalization. Of course, Google must have the same level of growth, and it must also gain market share. In retrospect, there is plenty of room for Amazon and Google to grow in this business, but the big question for these two disruptive giants is which has the most to gain? Given AWS's current share and Google's recent price cuts, conventional wisdom suggests Google, which bodes well for its investors.

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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

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I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

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Everything else is details. 

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