On Friday, Diane Greene announced she would be stepping down as Google Cloud’s chief exec.
Greene’s replacement will be the 22-year Oracle veteran Thomas Kurian, who before resigning in September, was president of product development with the company, and a key player in its cloud efforts. When he steps into the role in January, he’ll be leading Google Cloud as it continues its quest to topple Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud wars.
But who exactly is Google Cloud’s new CEO?
Here’s a closer look at Thomas Kurian’s life and career:
Thomas Kurian is 51. He was born in Kerala, India. His father was self-educated and became a successful executive in the manufacturing industry. His mother was born to Indian parents living in Sri Lanka. She immigrated to India to go to college, which was uncommon for women at the time.
Source: Business Insider
Kurian has an identical twin brother named George. The twin brothers have both become high-powered Silicon Valley execs: George is CEO of the $US5.5 billion storage company, NetApp.
Kurian came to the US in 1986 to study electrical engineering at Princeton University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He would later go on to earn his MBA from Stanford University.
Early in his career, Kurian worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company — first as a business analyst and then as an engagement manager.
Kurian joined Oracle in 1996, where he would work for the next 22 years.
Starting in product management and development, over the years he rose the ranks, eventually becoming Oracle President of Product Development in January 2015.
Around that time, Reuters reported that perhaps more than anyone at Oracle at the time – including co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd – Kurian had the ear of founder and CTO Larry Ellison. According to the Reuters report, Ellison turned to Kurian for advice and affirmation on product decisions.
“He always looks back at Thomas and says, ‘Thomas what do you think? Thomas let’s do that.’ It was something to watch them,” a former Oracle executive told Reutors.
As president of product, Kurian oversaw Oracle’s cloud computing efforts, but conflict between Ellison and him began to emerge. Kurian’s demeanour is reportedly similar to that of Ellison —outspoken and opinionated.
In September 2018, Bloomberg reported that Kurian and Ellison were butting heads in regards to the company’s cloud strategy.
According to the Bloomberg report, Kurian wanted to help boost Oracle’s cloud computing business by allowing some of its software to run on the clouds owned by competitors, particularly those of market leaders like Amazon and Microsoft.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had instituted a similar strategy of embracing rival technologies.
Ellison, reportedly, did not agree with this approach – he’s been known to publicly and vocally criticise Amazon Web Services, and hype up Oracle’s own cloud.
On September 5 of this year, Kurian announced he would be taking some time off from Oracle, but the company said that he was “expected” back. On September 28, however, Oracle announced Kurian’s resignation.
According to his LinkedIn at the time of his departure, around 35,000 people in 32 countries, or about one-quarter of the company, were reporting into Kurian.
Kurian was replaced by a longtime Microsoft engineer exec named T.K. Anand, who had joined Oracle only months earlier.
On November 16, 2018, Google announced that Kurian will be named the new CEO of Google Cloud, replacing its current chief exec, Diane Greene.
Kurian will join the company on November 26, and will assume the leadership role in January.