Diane Greene was the CEO of Google's cloud business, and it was she who tried to convince Googlers to back her bid to sell AI services to the Pentagon's drone program, as a warmup for bidding on JEDI, the $10B Pentagon infrastructure project.
An uprising of Googlers that led the company to cancel its drone/AI project and renounce any intention to bid on JEDI, thwarting Greene's ambition. Then, Greene dragged her heels in pulling out of "Davos in the Desert," the credential-burnishing investor conference in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that became reputational poison after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a critical journalist named Jamal Khashoggi kidnapped, murdered and dismembered with a bone-saw (Greene had hoped to land a big cloud services sale to the Saudis).
Greene now has resigned from Google. Greene was co-founder and former CEO of VMWare, before founding Bebop, which Google bought for $380m in 2015. She has spun her resignation by saying that she'd only intended to stay on as cloud CEO for two years, and, after three, felt it was time to move on. She says she will now focus on helping female tech founders with investment and mentorship.
When reports of the company’s involvement in Project Maven spread internally, more than 4,000 employees signed a letter protesting the decision. In March, Ms. Greene defended the decision, saying that it was a small contract worth “only” $9 million and that the technology would be used for nonlethal purposes.
When that response failed to calm the furor among some employees, Google announced in June that it would not renew that contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence work when the current deal expired in 2019.
Announcing that decision, Ms. Greene said that Google would not have sought the Maven contract if company officials had anticipated the criticism from employees and that the decision was made when Google was more aggressively going after military work.
Google Cloud Executive Who Sought Pentagon Contract Steps Down [Daisuke Wakabayashi/NY Times]