Google's Diane Greene Opens Up on Her Life & Career

Mitch Wagner

As for her transition to Google, she says she knew company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin from before they founded Google in 1997. Google and VMware were startups at the same time.

"We were moving out of our space and we tried to convince them to buy our furniture," Greene said. "But they were buying cables for furniture -- they didn't want real desks."

The two companies socialized together for a while and went to the same parties. "They we started competing for talent and the joint parties stopped," she said. Both companies were looking to hire employees with strong systems background.

Greene was initially reluctant to join Google because of its consumer focus, she says.

Seven years ago, Google invited her to join the board. "I started asking, 'Why don't you guys have a public cloud,'" she says.

She started Bebop around 2013. "This one Mendel didn't want to do so I was just doing it," she said. He joined toward the end.

Bebop was a startup with a mission of making enterprise software easy to use. Simultaneous to that, she was helping Google look for someone to head up their cloud business. "They weren't finding someone Googley enough, I think," she says. She took the job herself in 2015 after Google acquired Bebop.

"I think the reason I fit the bill for them is I really love working with engineers. I have a technical background and yet I have a lot of fun on the business side," she said.

"Also, I don't really like to tell everybody what to do. I like for people to figure out what to do. And yet I don't like chaos. I very rarely have to say 'no don't do that.' People just do the right thing."

The cloud was already starting when she was at VMware, but now it has changed how companies work. At VMware, when they talked with customers, they talked with enterprise architects and sometimes the CFO to discuss finance. "But now it's a conversation with all the people in the company about how to change their process," she says.

VMware provided virtualization -- infrastructure software -- but Google provides the whole stack, from infrastructure to G Suite applications, Greene said.

Google applications serve over 1 billion active users, the company is investing $10 billion in infrastructure annually, with a new data center going up monthly. "And we're pretty much carbon neutral," she adds.

The cloud is "Google's fastest growing business," Greene said. She did not return to the point.

Google Cloud grew 76% year-over-year in the most recent quarter, according to analyst research. But Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is growing faster, at 90%. And Amazon Web Services Inc. still commands more of the market than the next five biggest players. (See Microsoft Growing Explosively, but Amazon Retains Huge Cloud Lead.)

What differentiates Google Cloud Platform? Security and reliability for starters, Greene said.

But the real differentiator is analytics, with BigQuery, and machine learning, as well as the company's commitment to open source, through projects such as Hadoop, TensorFlow and Kubernetes, Greene said.

Without naming Cisco, Greene mentioned a recent development at Google to allow users to run Kubernetes on premises or in the public cloud -- which is what Google's recent Cisco partnership is about. (See Google Teams With Cisco for Hybrid Cloud.)

Benioff asked Greene for her predictions over the next ten to 20 years. She said she sees the cloud as democratizing technology. "Absolutely anybody with a vision of using software and data can make it happen," she said. Companies will collaborate more easily using APIs.

"We have no idea what that's going to do with our world," Greene said, "to have that many people with that much power to create better ways of doing things."

— 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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Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané
11/22/2017 | 5:08:10 PM
Re: Fascinating
With that deternimation, it can be very possible.
11/22/2017 | 3:59:11 PM
Re: Fascinating
Greene certainly has had an interesting and varies career. It will be fascinating to watch Google's Cloud business as it progresses over the decade. While it's the "fastest growing part of Google's business," it will be interesting to see if it becomes a major profit maker as well.
11/16/2017 | 1:21:29 PM
Google's Cloud vs..
I think Google has done a great job with its long-term cloud strategy, but MSFT and AWS simply have more of the "Rolodex"-factor for gaining customers. Google's one weakness (but it's a huge one) is that it isn't well-known for great customer service. Amazon has built a decent reputation for efficient customer service, and MSFT generally has a "devil you know" rep. Google is probably more of an "unknown unknown" when it comes to how it treats its customers. 
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané
11/12/2017 | 6:10:12 PM
Leadership and looking into the future
"Also, I don't really like to tell everybody what to do. I like for people to figure out what to do. ... ” This is how a good leader leads. This has been a very enjoyable read. Although the question at the end asking for Greene’s predictions for the next 10 to 20 years should have focus in the next five years, instead. Considering the speed in technological developments today, it’s impossible for anyone to see that far into the future. But well, being asked that question was not her fault.
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané
11/12/2017 | 3:48:59 PM
Fascinating story. ”Tucci didn’t believe it could happen, so he agreed to do it.” Sometimes all what it takes to push an idea and be successful is to believe you can do it. It takes great confidence in yourself and in your abilities.
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