The fierce cable television pioneer John Malone recently compared Amazon.com Inc. to the Death Star. Companies whose share prices have been crushed by whispers of Amazon’s interest in their industry surely agree with Malone’s assessment.
Executives hunting for allies to protect them from Amazon’s Empire have landed on Google and Microsoft Corp. Apparently the best way for a company to shield itself from Supreme Commander Jeff Bezos is to find a big brute who is slightly less of an immediate threat.
Walmart Inc. and Google last August made it easier for people to shop from Walmart using Google’s voice-activated home speakers. Similar partnership announcements followed between Google and other Amazon rivals including EBay Inc. and Target Corp.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts in October that the company was devoting more attention to retailers because of their interest in cloud computing, online advertising, digital payments and other services Google (and Amazon) offer. Pichai didn’t mention retailers’ fear of Amazon, but he did use the term “flywheel effect,” which — ahem — is a favorite phrase of Bezos.
Diane Greene, the leader of Google’s cloud business, was more direct about the company’s motivations this week. At a conference, she said Google was considered a helping hand by retailers, software makers and companies in other industries that aren’t eager to use Amazon’s cloud service. “Now everybody is looking at Amazon,” Greene said. “We’re their friend.”