Alicia Boler Davis
Vice President of Global Customer Fulfillment, Amazon
The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
Thomas Kurian has one of the most high-pressure jobs in enterprise tech. The Alphabet-owned company has long trailed behind rivals Amazon Web Services and Microsoft in the cloud market, but Kurian has been given a five-year window to make sure it catches up to become "at least" the No. 2 cloud by 2023, Business Insider previously reported. (A Google spokesperson disputes the existence of any such window: “Reports of these conversations are simply not accurate.“).
Since beginning his role in January 2019, Kurian has pushed Google Cloud towards that milestone by drawing on his 22 years of experience at Oracle to make some massive changes to the organization’s strategy. He’s made a handful of key leadership hires this year to target large enterprise customers in specific industries, and has worked to bring partners into the fold to make it easier for them to collaborate with Google's sales teams. Google Cloud also changed how it compensates those salespeople, switching to a bonus-oriented structure that’s similar to how Oracle and SAP reward top performers.
While it’s still early, Kurian’s approach seems to be paying off. The company has made headway in shattering perceptions about its ability to win over large customers, analysts say, and has set itself apart in the hybrid cloud arena. Google Cloud generated $2.8 billion in revenue in the first quarter — a 52% year-over-year increase — and it’s primed to continue to benefit from the coronavirus-hastened shift to the cloud.