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Photo: studioEAST/Getty Images

Google's G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Long seen as the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is now one of the two incumbents, facing fresh rivals of its own.

"That's a staggering number. ... These products have incredible reach. Changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do."
— Javier Soltero

Soltero declined to offer a breakdown of how many of those 2 billion users are for products beyond Gmail or how many are paid versus free.

Driving the news: Soltero, who joined Google from Microsoft last year, said his focus has been on doubling down on features that make G Suite unique, like its robust search, conversation focus in Gmail and built-in collaboration.

Once a startup CEO himself — he sold mobile email app Accompli to Microsoft — Soltero now touts the benefits of going with an established player, rather than some company that might not even be around a year from now.

Yes, but: The presence of so many startups out there shows there is more work to be done, Soltero said. "This is not a solved problem. Nobody has run the table on communication and collaboration."

  • As for what distinguishes Google from Microsoft, Soltero pointed to its Silicon Valley culture: "I don't feel the need to be quite as outspoken here," Soltero said. "People do a lot more self-examination here, which is great."

What's next: Soltero said to expect the "smart compose" feature — which suggests email replies, for instance, based on the content of the message — to expand beyond Gmail and Docs. The feature, he said, should go everywhere it is prudent to do so.

He also sees room for improvement in better integrating the separate apps. "I think we still have work to do," Soltero said.

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.