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Google Cloud CEO stepping down to welcome ex-Oracle exec

19 Nov 2018

In a recent blog post, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene revealed she will be stepping down from her role.

Greene has had an illustrious career thus far, having been one of the founders of VMware and its CEO between 1998–2008.

Google then enlisted Greene in 2015 to take the helm of its Cloud business after Alphabet (its parent company) acquired her startup, bebop, for US$380 million. Greene had been on Alphabet’s board of directors since 2012.

In a market dominated by just a few players, Greene was tasked with establishing Google Cloud as the solution of choice. She then instigated an audacious drive into the market worth tens of billions of dollars into new data centres, features, and enterprise support capabilities, which saw the company claim a number of big-name customers.

Despite these gains, the company still hasn’t been able to make any real in-roads to the market shares from behemoth Amazon Web Services and the somewhat distant-placed second Microsoft Azure.

Greene says when she first took on the role as Google Cloud CEO, she told her friends and family it would only be a two-year venture.

“Now, after an unbelievably stimulating and productive three years, it’s time to turn to the passions I’ve long had around mentoring and education,” says Greene.

“The mentoring will include investing in and helping female founder CEOs who have engineering or science backgrounds. I want to encourage every woman engineer and scientist to think in terms of building their own company someday. The world will be a better place with more female founder CEOs.”

Former Oracle exec (most recently president of product development) Thomas Kurian will be taking Greene’s role after having spent more than two decades with Oracle, and the least decade reporting directly to co-founder Larry Ellison.

Bloomberg reported at the time of Kurian’s resignation (around late October, early November) that it had arisen from disagreements between him and Ellison.

Kurian will be joining Google Cloud officially next week, with Greene continuing as CEO through January to ensure a smooth transition. Greene will remain a director on the Alphabet board.

"I'm excited to join the fantastic Google Cloud team at this important and promising time. I'm looking forward to building on the success of recent years as it enters its next phase of growth,” Kurian says.

Greene says she is proud of all the things Google Cloud has achieved under her tenure.

When this journey started, some people would say that Google had great technology but they weren’t sure that customers would rely on Google as their enterprise partner. At our recent Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco, we had over 23,000 attendees, representing 10x growth from 2016,” says Greene.

“With nearly 300 customers speaking about how Google Cloud is helping to transform their businesses, no one was questioning our seriousness or our abilities. The cloud space is early and there is an enormous opportunity ahead. I have loved working with everyone. I am especially grateful to all of our customers, partners, and employees for an amazing three years of getting to work with you.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is rapt with how the company has grown, and is confident with Kurian’s abilities.

“In a few short years, under Diane’s leadership, Cloud has become an incredible business built on Google’s decades of investment in infrastructure, data security, and AI. Today, those investments are available to everyone and truly changing the way people work,” says Pichai.

“I have deep appreciation for everything Diane has done and I’m super happy that we’ll continue to benefit from her wisdom as she continues serving on our Board of Directors. We’re really excited to welcome Thomas whose product vision, customer focus, and deep expertise will be a huge asset to our growing Cloud business.”

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