Diane Greene to Step Down as Google Cloud CEO

Former longtime Oracle exec Thomas Kurian will replace Diane Greene as CEO of Google Cloud.

Jeffrey Schwartz

November 17, 2018

3 Min Read
Step Down

Diane Greene is stepping down as CEO of Google Cloud and replacing her is longtime Oracle executive Thomas Kurian.

Greene announced her plan to step down today, saying she wants to focus on education but will remain a director on Google’s board, a seat she’s held since 2012. Kurian will take over at Google later this month, but Greene said she will stay on as CEO through January.


Google’s Diane Greene

The move comes as Google started to gain ground with its partners. Under Greene’s watch, Google started requiring its sales force to refer all implementation work to partners. Many partners have started doing more work with Google Cloud. Others have indicated interest in exploring opportunities with Google, as customers were showing more interest in having multiple cloud partners.

During its annual Google Next conference in July, partners said Google Cloud is taking a more partner-friendly approach with the referral mandate. “In some ways they are disrupting the partner engagement model,” Alain Dias, COO of Dev9, a Google Premier partner, said at the time.

The choice of Kurian is rather ironic, in that he left Oracle, where he was president of product development, after 22 years with the company. Kurian reported directly to Oracle founder and chairman Larry Ellison.

But according to multiple reports, Kurian was in sharp disagreement with Ellison over the company’s cloud strategy. Kurian believed that Oracle should host its software offerings on the three major cloud services rather than exclusively on its own cloud.

At Google, Kurian will inherit a strategy that is more in line with the plan he was looking to adopt at Oracle. “I believe that he’ll do an amazing job helping to take Google Cloud to the next level,” Greene said in her announcement, posted on the company’s blog.

Since arriving at Google three years ago when the company acquired her startup Bebop for $380 million, Greene has become the face of the company’s enterprise cloud business. Analysts and partners have credited her with forging key alliances with key enterprise application and infrastructure providers including Cisco, SAP, Citrix and even the company she founded and led as CEO, VMware.

But when Google parent Alphabet declined to reveal figures relating to its cloud business in its third quarter earnings report last month, analysts started wondering if Google Cloud wasn’t gaining enough ground on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

In her announcement on the Google Cloud blog, Greene said the decision was hers, and that she recruited her successor. Greene said she had only originally planned to head up Google Cloud for two years and that it was time to move on.

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

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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