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Here’s What Happens to a Startup When Google Gets All Up in Its Business

Docker’s new CEO is laying plans to navigate a post-Google world.
Steve Singh, chief executive officer of Docker Inc.

Steve Singh, chief executive officer of Docker Inc.

Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg

Docker Inc. helped establish a type of software tool known as containers. Thanks to the startup, containers have become an essential part of many companies’ app development process, and they’ve made the company rich. Venture capitalists have poured about $240 million into the startup, according to research firm CB Insights.

Then along came Google, with its own free container system called Kubernetes. Google has successfully inserted Kubernetes into the coder toolbox. While Docker and Kubernetes serve slightly different purposes, customers who choose Google’s tool can avoid paying Docker. The startup gives away its most popular product while trying to convince developers to pay for extras, notably a program that does the same thing as Google’s.