Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian isn’t afraid to bench longtime gamers

Alphabet’s Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian speaks at the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco on April 9, 2019.

Michael Court | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As part of a recent reorganization within Google Cloud, CEO Thomas Kurian dismissed several company veterans. In particular, he meets the company’s high expectations when she hired him two years ago.

CNBC reported on Wednesday that Kurian, in a recent email to staff, announced a major reorganization within Google Cloud’s engineering units. The reshuffle aims to help Google Cloud continue to grow its market share while streamlining an organization that has exploded since the takeover of Kurian. The technical unit alone has doubled since arriving, Kurian said in his recent email.

Google still lags behind Amazon and Microsoft in terms of market share, but the recent reorganization and steady gains show why Kurian, an initially unlikely candidate, is doing what Google had hoped for.

In the latest reorganization, Kurian dismissed several veterans who otherwise could have stayed on board thanks to their tenure. There is a joke among Google employees that middle managers and long-tenured executives can sit comfortably at their jobs for as long as they want despite changing business needs, thanks to bureaucracy. cultural. But in this latest move, Kurian has shown he’s not afraid to put the veterans on the bench and give others more responsibility.

Kurian has deleted Eyal Manor, who has been with the company for over 14 years and worked at Cloud for five years. Manor oversaw competing product Anthos, which Google hopes will give it an edge over its competition. Manor will seek other areas within the company to work on, Kurian said.

The reorganization also effectively takes Urs Holzle, who was one of Google’s first ten employees and senior vice president of engineering, away from some of his day-to-day responsibilities in favor of a more strategic role. Holzle recently faced backlash from employees for also contradicting his own remote work policies.

Kurian also decided to unify the Google Cloud technical teams under Brad Calder, who will take on some of the responsibilities of Manor and Holzle and report directly to Kurian. Calder spent eight years at Microsoft before joining Google Cloud in 2015.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google LLC, speaks during the Google Cloud Next ’19 event in San Francisco, California, United States, Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Michael Court | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Growth trumps culture, for now

Although Google Cloud is still not profitable, Kurian has more than doubled his revenues and reduced his losses since joining the company, earning praise from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, CFO Ruth Porat and investors.

In the last quarter, cloud revenue reached $ 4.63 billion, up nearly 54% from $ 3.01 billion a year ago. The cloud business posted operating losses of $ 591 million, a dramatic improvement of 58.7% from last year’s loss of $ 1.43 billion.

Kurian also placed emphasis on the business organization of the company. Before Kurian, 10 managers had to give their approval before a salesperson could offer a discount to a client, and the deal would then require nondisclosure agreements and a team of lawyers. Kurian simplified some of these practices early on.

He also encouraged sales teams to incorporate other Google products, such as artificial intelligence tools and the Android mobile operating system, into their pitch in an attempt to compete for more customers, especially the more notable ones. . Kurian is also said to have increased the salaries of salespeople to make them more competitive than Amazon and Microsoft.

Kurian had a reputation for having an unadorned and sometimes militant style of leadership at Oracle. When Google hired him in 2018, it came as a shock because he was the least “Google-y” person to be a leader in the company, where employees largely felt they had a voice and that everything was working for a greater good.

Culturally, Kurian is still trying to figure out how to navigate this culture of longtime, righteous employees, but he doesn’t completely forget about it, as some had anticipated internally. Most recently, he claimed to have requested information from the US Customs and Border Patrol on how the company’s cloud-based artificial intelligence tools would be used amid employee concerns. While there is still a contingent of employees unhappy with the outlook, Kurian has yet to completely dismiss those concerns.

But the cultural fit isn’t the reason Google hired him. They knew his reputation. Google’s culture more generally had already started to evolve towards a culture that no longer shied away from military contracts or used slogans such as “Don’t Be Evil”.

Whether or not Kurian’s process works in the long run, growth is what Google wants and growth is what it gets – for now, at least.

Watch Now: Google Cloud Reorganizes Its Engineering Units

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