Google’s new cloud chief has a culture clash ahead of him after 22 years at Oracle

Thomas Kurian

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Thomas Kurian

Upon leaving Oracle in September, after a 22-year career at the software giant, Thomas Kurian told friends and colleagues that he was going to take a step back and decide what to do next.

One person he exchanged LinkedIn messages with was a former boss at Oracle, Gary Bloom, who has spent the past six years running database company MarkLogic. On Friday, Bloom, like the rest of us, learned that Kurian is headed to Google to run the internet company’s high-profile but struggling cloud business.

Kurian will try to accomplish what his predecessor, VMware co-founder Diane Greene, couldn’t, and turn one of the most successful and profitable consumer technology companies ever into a power player in enterprise. Bloom knows how hard that will be. MarkLogic sells database technology to large enterprises like Johnson & Johnson & J.P. Morgan Chase, and his customers, when they turn to the cloud, are almost exclusively using Google’s top two competitors.

“They’re predominantly looking at the Microsoft platform and the Amazon platform, and Google only comes up one out of 20 or one out of 30 times,” said Bloom, who worked at Oracle for 14 years and was an executive vice president when he left in 2000.

“The comment I’m picking up from my customer base is that that it doesn’t feel like Google is really serious about the enterprise. That could’ve been Diane, or Google management not listening to Diane.”

Bloom praised Kurian as an “exceptional executive,” but said he has no idea if it will work out at Google. While Oracle and Google are two of Silicon Valley’s most notable stalwarts, separated by just 13 miles on Highway 101, they are universes apart from a cultural perspective.