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Greene Screen: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Gets Google Cloud Chief Diane Greene To Dish On Her Life And Career During Dreamforce Interview

During the Dreamforce keynote interview, led by Salesforce's CEO, Google's Greene discussed about her life and a career that went from VMware to Google Cloud and changed an industry.

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Diane Greene sat down Tuesday at the Dreamforce conference for a deeply personal interview conducted by none other than Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Showing some journalistic chops, Benioff pressed hard and got Google's cloud chief and former VMware CEO to open up about her family, early career, marriage to VMware co-founder Mendel Rosemblum, and how she ended up as a senior executive at Google.

Greene shared intimate stories, including how her father, a CEO of an aircraft company, lost his security clearance (and his job) because a conniving competitor accused him to the government of being a communist. She also recounted her first encounter with Rosenblum, when he took her home from a research lab on a motorcycle, and how she became friends with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, leading to her current position.

[Related: Salesforce Preps Partners For The Fourth Industrial Revolution]

While Google Cloud and Salesforce on Monday announced a new strategic partnership, Benioff first met Greene 20 years ago, when, at the behest of a friend who made the introduction, she came knocking at his door, just down the hall from Larry Ellison's office at Oracle.

Benioff wasn't as willing an interview subject when Greene asked him questions, but he told attendees of the session that he remembers the meeting like it was yesterday.

That's where he first learned about the virtualization technology that Greene would pioneer with VMware, and would later lay a technological foundation for Salesforce to upend the industry with Software-as-a-Service model.

Now that Google and Salesforce have partnered, Greene is finally attending her first Dreamforce conference.

"Shame on me," Greene said. "I love how non-commercial it is. And inspired."

The companies have natural synergies that transcend technology, Greene said.

"Google is always trying to do the right thing, similar to you guys," she said.


While Benioff somewhat comically avoided responding to any of the questions Greened directed his way, saying he wanted to keep the focus squarely on her, he was full of praise.

"I don’t think there's another story like this in Silicon Valley," the Salesforce CEO said of Greene. "Story of a great entrepreneur, great visionary, but also this great love affair you've had with Mendel and how it's influenced our entire industry."

Greene acknowledged the cloud has become even larger a force in IT than she first thought it would. It's a platform every company is using to change how they work, she said.

While VMware was "a subset of what cloud has become today," Greene said, the advent of true cloud technologies has drastically changed the way IT companies interact with their clients.

At VMware, executives and sales agents mostly talked with chief architects, sometimes CFOs "because we saved them so much money."

But her conversations as Google's cloud leader are with all the top people across the company, she said, and delve into changing their business processes.

To some degree, that's what Google's partnership with Salesforce is all about, she said.

"Taking all this data and putting it together, then being able to run analytics and machine learning on that," Greene said.

The big trend that will continue for the next decade is technology overall becoming more accessible and easier to use, allowing almost anybody to leverage it to do and disseminate useful projects, she said.

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