Thomas Kurian Jumps from Oracle to Google
by Jim Lundy
The big news last Friday was that one of Larry Ellison’s longtime executives decided to jump ship and move to run Google’s enterprise business. Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced she was stepping down at the same time that Kurian was announced.
While there is a lot of speculation as to why, we are going to focus on the benefits to Google of hiring Kurian.
Thomas Kurian Is Battle-Tested When It Comes to Product
First, Kurian was at Oracle from 1996 until 2018 and some of his products became the fastest growing in Oracle history. Not that Google doesn’t build great products, but some of the go-to-market discipline that Kurian helped to hone at Oracle will clearly benefit Google.
Operational Know-How: QBRs Are Coming to Google
There is no doubt that Oracle has helped to train many of Silicon Valley’s top executives. The quarterly business review (QBR) got its start at Oracle, and Google will clearly benefit from Kurian’s institutional knowledge and know-how when it comes to operations.
For someone who has lived in a firm that does QBRs, they can be done the right way and the wrong way; we’ll see how Google adapts to the QBR mentality. One thing is clear—no one will be able to hide from the light that shines on them in a QBR.
Competing to Win
One big thing that Kurian will bring to the table is the mentality of competing to win. It isn’t that Google doesn’t compete, but the killer instinct could be stronger. We expect that Kurian will quickly bring that competitive focus to the management team. Account-based selling and leading stronger with Google Cloud Platform are just a few of the things we expect to see.
For example, Google has told us that they have more cloud infrastructure than Amazon and Microsoft combined, but where is that in their marketing literature and storytelling? Kurian will fix that fast, most likely by bringing more Oracle people with him.
Many large enterprises know Kurian well and his joining Google will also make them pause and take notice. We expect Google to start winning many more deals with his client focus.
While we have noticed that Google hires some incredible people, the recent debacle in the Android unit with Andy Rubin’s departure puts Google in a tough spot with employees. Kurian brings executive experience in managing other executives—other Google executives, including Sundar, will clearly benefit from this.
Note, Kurian may not fix all of Google, but I’m pretty sure that the Google enterprise unit will have operational excellence when it comes to human resources and zero tolerance.
Google and Salesforce Relationship Will Probably Get Stronger
Given that Salesforce is more of a competitor with Microsoft than ever before, Google and Salesforce need each other. With Keith Block (formerly of Oracle) now at Salesforce, Kurian can continue to build on what Greene started. Salesforce can certainly benefit from Google GCP—execution is what is now needed.
So, Thomas Kurian is now front and center at Google. It comes as a surprise, but clearly, Google is the winner on this and Oracle is the loser. The question is, can Oracle and Google also become partners?
So, this is developing, but don’t expect Kurian to stand still.