Will Google Replace Cloud Boss Diane Greene?

Mitch Wagner
12/22/2017

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene will be replaced as the service's growth rate lags expectations, predicts The Information. The new boss: newly hired COO Diane Bryant, recently of Intel.

Greene, who co-founded VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), "is one of the most respected executives in enterprise technology," but "hasn't managed to move the needle on Google Cloud 's business since joining two years ago," writes Kevin McLaughlin on The Information Friday (paid registration required).

It's an exaggeration to say Greene "hasn't managed to move the needle." McLaughlin himself notes that Google Cloud sales rose 76% in the third quarter from a year earlier, which is hardly sluggish. But Microsoft Azure 's growth rate was 90% in the same period. Amazon Web Services Inc. grew 42% -- much slower than Google's growth, but coming from a much bigger base, as AWS leads the market by a huge amount. (See AWS, Azure Lead $35B+ Public Cloud Market.)

Google Cloud's market share is 6%, up two percentage points since the beginning of 2016, according to Synergy Research Group. AWS lifted its share to 34% from 33% and Azure grew from 8% to 12%, McLaughlin says.

McLaughlin says he's "reading the tea leaves" of Bryant's appointment to COO. Bryant's last job was running Intel's Data Center Group, a $17 billion revenue business. Google Cloud's estimated revenue last year was $1 billion -- a big step down for Bryant, unless the plan is for Bryant to move into the Google cloud top spot, the writer at The Information says.

Google Cloud COO Diane Bryant (left) and CEO Diane Greene. Bryant photo by Google, Greene photo by TechCrunch (CC BY 2.0)
Google Cloud COO Diane Bryant (left) and CEO Diane Greene. Bryant photo by Google, Greene photo by TechCrunch (CC BY 2.0)


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Bryant has a "deep enterprise background" including "long-standing relationships with Fortune 500 customers, which have also been a top sales target for Ms. Greene," McLaughlin says. (See Intel's Diane Bryant Jumps Over to Google Cloud.)

Google Cloud's marquee customers include Colgate-Palmolive, Verizon, Home Depot and HSBC, in addition to more bleeding-edge businesses: Walt Disney Co. and eBay Inc. (See Google: Still the New Kid in Enterprise Cloud.)

Greene will likely stay on at Google "in some capacity," perhaps focused on strategy, as she is a big draw for engineers and enterprise executives. But Bryant will "emerge as the public face for Google Cloud at conferences and industry events" next year, McLaughlin says. (See Google's Diane Greene Opens Up on Her Life & Career.)

Speculation of Greene's departure comes as ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt steps aside as executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet. Alphabet and Schmidt announced the transition Thursday, saying Schmidt would continue as a director and also serve Alphabet in a technology advisory capacity. (See Ex-Google Boss Eric Schmidt Exits as Alphabet Executive Chairman.)

For more background about Google, see our March report: Is Google's Big Enterprise Bet Paying Off?


Update: Google responds: "The article by The Information is complete speculation and could not be further from the truth. Diane Greene has been building a stellar team of enterprise executives, the most recent additions being Paul-Henri Ferrand and Diane Bryant. This is possible because in the two short years that Diane has been leading Google Cloud, its products and go to market organization have become completely enterprise ready, resulting in phenomenal traction with customers and partners. According to a variety of analysts, Google Cloud is the fastest growing public cloud today."

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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maryam@impact
[email protected]
12/22/2017 | 11:09:25 PM
Change with purpose
Mitch sometimes change can inject new energy and sometimes it can disrupt strategy, Google has made the decision because some aspects of their goals are not being met.Hopefully, they truly understand the source of the change needed and know that leadership can accomplish that goal. I have seen many organization change leadership for the wrong reason largely because they don't understand what they are trying to fix.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/23/2017 | 9:39:04 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@maryam: Moreover, sometimes you just don't like someone -- or there are other political/cultural elements at play that we'll never read about in print or hear about in the news. It's hard to attribute executive changes like this to any one thing or another.
TheTXBigDog
TheTXBigDog
12/26/2017 | 11:59:24 AM
Re: Change with purpose
If anyone has ever watched Diane present, as an executive, it is just sad. Also, the VMware team she brought on board are nowhere near what Public Cloiud needs. Their view of the market is "build it they will come". Google is getting their asses kicked in every enterprise deal by AWS. Enterprise customers would like a dual Cloud solution but Google is not even in these deals. Just adding sales pressure when AWS has so much more to offer customers, isn't getting it done.

People hate working at AWS but now are starting to hate working at Google, in the field. Azure wins hands down as the best Cloud provider to work for.
kq4ym
kq4ym
12/30/2017 | 4:22:14 PM
Re: Change with purpose
It's always interesting to me to see how executives are so widely praised or blamed for corporate sales and profits. It would be interesting to see if in fact there's lots of other factors much more important, and changing of the guard may well be for lots of other reasons beside the bottom lines.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/30/2017 | 5:19:00 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@kq4ym: Same as in politics. Take credit for all of the good things that happen; blame the last person for all of the bad things that happen. Business and politics are more alike than one might care to think.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/30/2017 | 5:21:19 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@TheTXBigDog: It's important to note, of course, the reasons why people hate working at Amazon vs. Google. According to stereotypes/reputation: People hate working at Amazon because of the particularity that goes with working there with a possible occasional slave-driving factor -- whereas people hate working at GOOG because of the groupthink and doublespeak that runs rife throughout the Kool-Aid-drinking culture.


Either way, both represent working cultures, apparently, where diversity of opinions is not necessarily valued.

So I understand. I could be completely wrong.
maryam@impact
[email protected]
12/26/2017 | 12:43:20 PM
Re: Change with purpose
Joe yes the politics of these jobs are brutal and there is always a power play in motion. Knowing exactly what causes the leadership change is really known only to a few on most situations and legalities will always cloud the departures.
Ariella
Ariella
12/28/2017 | 3:55:37 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@Joe that's true. This is another instance in which we may see effects but not know all the forces at play behind the scenes. Someone may one day reveal some of those in a book, but even then, we'd just be getting their point of view on it.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/30/2017 | 5:21:57 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@Ariella: A book sure would be interesting, but generally those kinds of high-level terminations/etc. tend to come with NDAs.
Ariella
Ariella
12/30/2017 | 7:46:43 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@Joe Yes, that's true. Of course, people are free to speculate and offer their views as facts, but we're not likely to ever get the full picture.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/31/2017 | 11:57:20 AM
Re: Change with purpose
@Ariella: Then there's your book. Book #1 = Specualtive Theory A. Book #2 written by someone else disputes Book #1 and offers Speculative Theory B. And so on from there.

That's how it works in other areas of politics and business. No reason why it wouldn't work here.
Ariella
Ariella
12/31/2017 | 5:11:51 PM
Re: Change with purpose
@Joe yes, that would be the pattern for such books.  Think of all the books on the conspiracy behind JFK's assassination.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
12/23/2017 | 9:38:01 PM
Information
It's an exaggeration to say Greene "hasn't managed to move the needle."

Indeed. Pardon me for saying so, but it seems that what journalism I've seen out of The Information since its inception has been hard to take seriously. Remember their "scoop" years ago about Amazon coming out with their own smartphone -- which turned out to be a completely baseless rumor?

Perhaps a better name for the outlet would be The Perception.

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