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Google hires former Microsoft Office exec to run G Suite

Google has hired Javier Soltero, a former corporate vice president in charge of Outlook, Office and Cortana at Microsoft, to run G Suite.

Google has hired a former top executive of Microsoft Office and Cortana to run G Suite. It's Google's latest move in a campaign to break Microsoft's stranglehold on office productivity tools as businesses move to the cloud.

Javier Soltero, a veteran tech executive and entrepreneur, started this week as vice president of G Suite, a cloud-based competitor to Microsoft Office 365 that includes email, collaboration, word processing and file storage apps.

Soltero spent four years at Microsoft after the tech giant acquired his startup Acompli Inc., which made a mobile email app. Soltero served as corporate vice president of Outlook, followed by the Office product group, and finally Cortana, Microsoft's AI voice assistant.

Soltero joins Google at a time when the vendor is investing heavily in its enterprise products. Google Cloud, which includes its public cloud platform, as well as G Suite, was on track to reach $8 billion in annual revenue as of July, and the division has significantly expanded its headcount this year.

Soltero is taking over for Prabhakar Raghavan, who recently left the cloud division to become Google's senior vice president in charge of advertising and commerce. Soltero will report directly to Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who joined the company in early 2019.

Soltero brings experience that will help Google with its strategy for attracting enterprises. The plan includes providing advanced collaboration, AI, machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, said Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst at IDC.

"Thomas Kurian, as Google Cloud CEO, has been effective at growing the Google Cloud offering, and backing it with the needed talent internally," Kurtzman said.

Before founding Acompli, Soltero spent three years as CTO for cloud software and applications at VMware, after it acquired open source software vendor SpringSource. Soltero co-founded the application monitoring and management vendor Hyperic, which merged with SpringSource in 2009.

To compete with Office 365, Google launched an enterprise calling service this past spring, Google Voice for G Suite. The company is also in the process of transitioning its business users from messaging app Hangouts to the newer Hangouts Chat, a team collaboration app similar to Microsoft Teams.

Google also recently launched a video conferencing platform, Hangouts Meet, and has been adding features and admin controls commonly sought by medium and large businesses.

In February, Google announced that more than 5 million businesses were subscribed to G Suite, up roughly 25% over the past year. Anecdotally, analysts said the offering generally appeals to small businesses. Yet, some big names, such as Verizon and Colgate-Palmolive, also use G Suite.

Microsoft has not said how many businesses subscribe to Office 365. But in a quarterly earnings report Wednesday, the company said the cloud-based productivity suite had more than 200 million monthly active business users.

In a 2018 survey of more than 135,000 organizations worldwide, security vendor Bitglass Inc. found that more than half used Office 365, while roughly a quarter reported using G Suite.

Meanwhile, the research firm Gartner previously found that Microsoft's cloud email offerings (Outlook and Exchange Online) had been growing at roughly twice the rate of Gmail among public companies in recent years.

"I'm incredibly excited to start this new adventure at Google Cloud, continuing to grow its much loved and widely used communications and collaboration products for both consumer and enterprise users," Soltero said in a statement.

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