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Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene to be replaced by ex-Oracle president Thomas Kurian in early 2019

Having spent three years overseeing Google Cloud's push to become a credible enterprise cloud provider, Diane Greene is leaving the firm in January 2019 to focus on her philanthropic work

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene is stepping down in early 2019, when ex-Oracle product development president Thomas Kurian is expected to take over the reins of the company.

Ex-VMware co-founder Greene joined Google Cloud as CEO after its parent company acquired Bebop, the enterprise application management startup she founded, in December 2015

In a blog post, confirming her imminent departure, Greene revealed she initially planned to stay at the company for only two years, and is stepping down now so she focus on her philanthropic work.

This includes encouraging every woman engineer and scientist to consider creating their own company through mentoring and education initiatives, as the “world would be a better place with more female founder CEOs”, she wrote.

“The work in education will especially be initiatives that combine technology with in-person teaching to make high-quality education that is low-cost, scalable and personalised,” she said.

“When Bebop was purchased by Google, I committed all my proceeds to philanthropy. It is high time I put that money to work.”

During her three-year tenure, Green has overseen Google’s ongoing push to position its public cloud platform as enterprise-ready, and has – accordingly – seen its customer base broaden from being predominantly startup-focused to include a number of Fortune 1000 companies.

Read more about Google Cloud

As such, its reference customers now include the likes of HSBC, PayPal, Target, 20thCentury Fox, Spotify, Sky and Sony.   

“When this journey started, some people would say that Google had great technology but they weren’t sure that customers could rely on Google as their enterprise partner,” she said.

“At our recent Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco, we had over 23,000 attendees, representing 10x growth from 2016. With nearly 300 customers speaking about how Google Cloud is helping to transform their businesses, no-one was questioning our seriousness or our abilities.”

According to the latest public cloud market tracker data from Synergy Research, Google Cloud’s share of the market now stands at 8%, having risen by a single percentage point over the past four quarters, putting it in third place.

For context, the market leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS), holds 34% share, while Microsoft is the second largest with 14%.

Google has also latterly moved to use its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning portfolio as a point of competitive difference between it and its other public cloud competitors.

Accordingly, it has also rolled out a number of product updates and training initiatives, geared towards lowering the enterprise barriers to AI adoption, so that more businesses can incorporate the technology into their everyday business activities.

Point of differentiation

This work is called out in Greene’s blog post as an example of one of a number of areas Google has established as a point of differentiation between what it and its competitors can provide enterprises in the cloud.

“Our technology development has been recognised throughout the industry, and Google Cloud is differentiated in security, AI, open hybrid application modernisation, G Suite, and many other areas,” she said. “We are now recognised as a leader in 11 Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves.”

“But here’s what I’m most proud of: the phenomenal team assembled and how we together have built out all of our functions for customer-facing enterprise readiness and engineering enterprise execution.”

Kurian, Greene’s successor, is set join Google Cloud on 26 November after 22 years at Oracle, and will “transition” into the role of CEO by “early 2019”, the blog post confirmed.

He formally resigned from Oracle in September 2018, according to US media reports, initially telling his fellow employees he was taking an extended break from the firm, before a filing with the United States Security and Exchange Commission emerged later that month, confirming his resignation.

In a short statement at the end of the post, Thomas said he was looking forward to joining Google Cloud at time when the market is still, as Greene describes, in its infancy.

“I’m looking forward to building on the success of recent years as it enters its next phase of growth,” said Kurian.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

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