Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian is not afraid to place long-time workers on the financial institution
Thomas Kurian, CEO of Alphabet’s Google Cloud, speaks at the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco on April 9, 2019.
Michael Kurz | Bloomberg | Getty Images
As part of a recent reorganization within Google Cloud, CEO Thomas Kurian marginalized several long-time corporate veterans. So he lives up to the great expectations the company had when it was closed two years ago.
CNBC reported on Wednesday that Kurian recently announced a major reorganization within Google Cloud’s engineering units in an email to employees. The restructuring is designed to help Google Cloud continue to expand its market share while also streamlining an organization that has grown significantly since it was acquired by Kurian. The technical unit alone has doubled since he joined, Kurian said in his most recent email.
Google is still lagging behind Amazon and Microsoft in terms of market share, but the recent reorganization and steady growth show why Kurian, an initially unlikely candidate, is doing what Google had hoped.
In the recent reorganization, Kurian sidelined several veterans who otherwise would have stayed on board thanks to their tenure. There’s a joke among Google employees that long-time middle managers and executives can sit comfortably in their positions for as long as they want despite changing business needs thanks to the cultural bureaucracy. But with this latest move, Kurian showed that he isn’t afraid of bankrupting veterans and giving others more responsibility.
Kurian removed Eyal Manor, who has been with the company for more than 14 years and worked at Cloud for five years. Manor oversaw app management service Anthos, which Google hopes will give it an edge over its competitors. Manor will look to other areas within the company to work, Kurian said. Google spokeswoman Jacinda Mein said that Manor had decided to leave the group and that the timing coincided with this reorganization.
The reorganization also effectively sidelined Urs Holzle, one of Google’s first ten employees and first vice president of engineering, releasing him from some of his day-to-day duties in favor of a more strategic role. Holzle has also recently faced backlash from employees for contradicting his own remote working guidelines.
Kurian also switched to uniting the Google Cloud technical teams under Brad Calder, who takes on some of the responsibilities from Manor and Holzle and reports directly to Kurian. Calder spent eight years at Microsoft before joining Google Cloud in 2015.
Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google LLC, speaks during the Google Cloud Next ’19 event in San Francisco, California, the United States, on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
Michael Kurz | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Growth trumps culture, for now
While Google Cloud is still not profitable, Kurian has more than doubled revenue and reduced losses since joining the company, which has earned praise from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, CFO Ruth Porat and investors.
Cloud revenue rose to $ 4.63 billion in the most recent quarter, nearly 54% more than $ 3.01 billion a year ago. The cloud business recorded an operating loss of $ 591 million, a dramatic 58.7% improvement from a loss of $ 1.43 billion the previous year.
Kurian has also placed a strong focus on the company’s sales organization. Before Kurian, 10 managers had to give approval before a salesperson could offer a customer a discount, and the deal would then require nondisclosure agreements and a team of lawyers. Kurian rationalized some of these practices early on.
He’s also encouraged sales teams to incorporate other Google products like artificial intelligence and the Android mobile operating system into their sales pitches to compete for more customers, especially more noteworthy ones. Kurian has also reportedly increased sellers’ salaries to be more competitive than Amazon and Microsoft.
Kurian was known at Oracle for a no-frills, sometimes militant leadership style. When Google hired him in 2018 it was a shock because he was the least “Google-y” person to be a leader in the company where employees largely felt they had one voice and one thing worked towards greater good.
Culturally, Kurian is still trying to figure out how to navigate this long-standing, justice-motivated employee culture, but he doesn’t write it off completely as some internally expected. Most recently, he claimed to be soliciting information from U.S. Customs and Border Police about how the company’s artificial intelligence cloud tools are being used in light of employee concerns. While there is still a contingent of employees upset about the prospect, Kurian has not yet fully written off those concerns.
But Culture Fit isn’t why Google discontinued it. You knew his reputation. Google’s culture in general had already begun to move towards a culture that no longer shied away from military contracts or used slogans like “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 – at least for now.
Watch now: Google Cloud is reorganizing its engineering units