Google continues to bet heavily on Google Cloud and while it is seeing accelerated revenue growth, its losses are also increasing. For the first time today, Google disclosed operating income/loss for its Google Cloud business unit in its quarterly earnings today. Google Cloud lost $5.6 billion in Google’s fiscal year 2020, which ended December 31. That’s on $13 billion of revenue.
While this may look a bit dire at first glance (cloud computing should be pretty profitable, after all), there’s different ways of looking at this. On the one hand, losses are mounting, up from $4.3 billion in 2018 and $4.6 billion in 2019, but revenue is also seeing strong growth, up from $5.8 billion in 2018 and $8.9 billion in 2019. What we’re seeing here, more than anything else, is Google investing heavily in its cloud business.
Google’s Cloud unit, led by its CEO Thomas Kurian, includes all of its cloud infrastructure and platform services, as well as Google Workspace (which you probably still refer to as G Suite). And that’s exactly where Google is making a lot of investments right now. Data centers, after all, don’t come cheap and Google Cloud launched four new regions in 2020 and started work on others. That’s on top of its investment in its core services and a number of acquisitions.
“On cloud, we see how early customers are in this shift,” Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in today’s earnings call. “We see a large time ahead — and definitely the market dynamics and our momentum in the context of the market is the framework in which we are thinking about the scale of investments — and the pace of investments. Obviously, it’s an area in which the longer you are in, the [unintelligible] and contributes more — and economies of scale start working as well. But we are definitely investing ahead to make sure we are able to be able to serve the customers globally across all the offerings they are interested in.”
“Our strong fourth quarter performance, with revenues of $56.9 billion, was driven by Search and YouTube, as consumer and business activity recovered from earlier in the year,” Ruth Porat, CFO of Google and Alphabet, said. “Google Cloud revenues were $13.1 billion for 2020, with significant ongoing momentum, and we remain focused on delivering value across the growth opportunities we see.”
In today’s earnings call, Porat noted that Workspace is seeing strong growth among large enterprises, “which are signing meaningful, long-term commitment agreements.”
For now, though, Google’s core business, which saw a strong rebound in its advertising business in the last quarter, is subsidizing its cloud expansion.
Meanwhile, over in Seattle, AWS today reported revenue of $12.74 billion in the last quarter alone and operating income of $3.56 billion. For 2020, AWS’s operating income was $13.5 billion.