Google's cloud chief explains why she partnered with Box when she already has a competing product

Diane GreeneBusiness InsiderDiane Greene

Google and Box just announced a pretty significant partnership that could be a sign of more things to come.

Under the new partnership, Google Docs users will now be able to edit and collaborate directly within Box while also saving files in Box’s cloud platform. It’s a new development in the enterprise file storage industry because Google Drive already has a similar service that lets users store and edit files.

At BoxWorks on Wednesday, Google’s cloud chief Diane Greene explained why the partnership makes sense, despite competing with Box in the same space. She said:

“It’s really fun to work with other companies. I think that’s the huge appeal for me of Google Cloud, taking it out to every company and partnering with all these companies and every company is so interesting. We aren’t going to build it all.”

Greene also added that Google is actively forming partnerships in the broader work and productivity space, including in the infrastructure level where things like data analysis and machine learning is increasingly becoming important. She said:

“We’re also just in general partnering with companies in the cloud a lot around helping them moving to the cloud and working with their data. So we’re taking our world class engineers and having them work with our customers and it’s really well-received from both sides.”

Broader partnerships is just one of the many things Greene has brought to Google Cloud since being hired last November to lead the company’s cloud efforts. She’s expanded the company’s enterprise sales team while creating the office of the CTO to handle technical questions and larger customer needs. She’s also created smaller units to focus on specific industries, like finance or retail.

But the new partnership also brings to question how serious Google is in the enterprise file storage space. According to a recent Gartner report, Google wasn’t in the “leaders” category, and is considered to be lagging behind smaller players like Box, Dropbox, and Egnyte.

And it doesn’t seem like Google will surprise its partners by secretly investing in a competing product, according to Greene.

“People are sometimes surprised, and ask, ‘Aren’t you building that?’ No, no, we will partner, but we will never surprise you. If we’re building it, you’ll know,” she said.

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