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Google’s Aramco Deal Risks Irking Staff Over Oil, Politics

A highly lucrative deal for Google spurs protests from its staff.
(Ascannio)
(Ascannio)
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“Google will start selling its cloud-computing services in Saudi Arabia through a deal with oil producer Aramco,” Bloomberg writes.

Why It Matters: It’s a highly lucrative deal as Aramco described the Saudi market for cloud services as one with the potential to reach $30 billion by 2030. But the Tech Giant is facing significant backlash from staff who “oppose doing business with the fossil fuel industry or regimes accused of human rights abuses.”

For Google, it’s about chasing Microsoft and Amazon. The cloud services market has become highly competitive between the Tech Giants, which is why Google is pushing to service the energy industry.

The Details: “Google is partnering with Saudi Aramco Development Co., a division of the state-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Aramco will find a local reseller for Google’s cloud services in the country. That includes Snap Inc., a Google cloud customer that provides its app in the Kingdom.”

Aramco and Google first reached a preliminary agreement in 2018. But the Jamal Khashoggi situation followed soon after, prompting human rights concerns. Later, Google released a “set of public principles for its technology and artificial intelligence after staff protests over its work” that included restrictions on AI systems “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”

The Closing Word: A representative from Google said the company’s cloud unit would continue to obey the AI principles. Also, the Aramco deal is away from the firm’s oil extraction services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

  • Google also announced cloud centers in Chile and Germany on Monday.

Justin Oh:

Good for Google’s business, bad for publicity in the eyes of Saudi Arabia detractors.

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