Google just named a former Oracle exec as the head of its giant cloud business

Google will replace Diane Greene as the head of its cloud business. Fortune/screenshot
  • Google will replace Diane Greene as the CEO of its cloud business in January.
  • Thomas Kurian, a former Oracle executive, will replace Greene as the head of Google Cloud.
  • Greene has drawn criticism as Google has struggled to keep up with Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud-computing market.

Diane Greene is stepping down as the head of Google’s cloud business.

The former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian will replace Greene as CEO of Google Cloud, she announced in a blog post on Friday. Kurian will join the company on November 26 and assume the leadership role in January, and Greene will continue to serve as CEO until then, she said.

Greene, who has been the CEO of Google Cloud since December 2015, said she hadn’t planned to stay in the position this long. After stepping down, she plans to focus on mentoring and backing female entrepreneurs and education-technology projects.

“After an unbelievably stimulating and productive three years, it’s time to turn to the passions I’ve long had around mentoring and education,” she said in the post.

Even after stepping down as Google Cloud’s CEO, Greene will remain on the board of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, she said in the post. She’s been a director of the company since 2012.

CNBC first reported the news.

Kurian was the president of product development at Oracle, where he headed up its cloud-computing effort. After a 22-year stint at Oracle, he resigned in September after clashing with Larry Ellison, the company’s founder and executive chairman.

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In a statement, Kurian said he was looking forward to joining Google.

“I’m excited to join the fantastic Google Cloud team at this important and promising time,” he said.

In his own short statement, Google CEO Sundar Pichai praised Greene’s work on the company’s cloud efforts.

“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,” he said.

Greene, the founder and former CEO of VMware, has been under fire of late because Google Cloud has become a distant also-ran to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure in the cloud-computing market.

Here’s Greene’s blog post:

Hello All,

When I joined Google full-time to run Cloud in December 2015, I told my family and friends that it would be for two years. 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.

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.

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. When bebop was purchased by Google, I committed all of my proceeds to philanthropy, it is high time to put that money to work!

Thomas Kurian, a respected technologist and executive, will be joining Google Cloud on November 26th and transitioning into the Google Cloud leadership role in early 2019. Sundar, Urs and I all interviewed Thomas, and I believe that he’ll do an amazing job helping to take Google Cloud to the next level. Thomas has 22 years of experience at Oracle; most recently he was President of Product Development.

I will continue as CEO through January, working with Thomas to ensure a smooth transition. I will remain a Director on the Alphabet board.

The Google Cloud team has accomplished amazing things over the last three years, and I’m proud to have been a part of this transformative work. We have moved Google Cloud from having only two significant customers and a collection of startups to having major Fortune 1000 enterprises betting their future on Google Cloud, something we should accept as a great compliment as well as a huge responsibility.

We’ve built a strong business together-set up by integrating sales, marketing, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Google Apps/G Suite into what is now called Google Cloud.

We established a training and professional services organisation and partnering organisations. We revamped customer engineering and added a team of experts in the Office of the CTO. We also pioneered a way to help enterprises adopt AI through our Advanced Solutions Lab. We built out a full marketing organisation that in just three years has received many recognitions including Cannes Lions awards. We set up our industry verticals org where we have achieved massive traction in health, financial services, retail, gaming and media, energy and manufacturing, and transportation. We set up the Cloud ML and the Cloud IoT groups. We acquired Apigee, Kaggle, qwiklabs and several great small startups. 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. 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. 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. 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.


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