In the latest installment of SaaStr’s What’s New series – where we sit down with the leaders in SaaS and Cloud for the inside scoop on what’s top of mind and what’s new, SaaStr CEO and Jason Lemkin chats with the CMO of Google Cloud, Alison Wagonfeld. 

Alison brings the perspective of all sides of a startup, from investing to SaaS to Cloud. In this episode of What’s New at Google Cloud, Jason and Alison talk about:

  • The top priorities as a CMO over the next 12-18 months
  • Generative AI
  • Attracting and serving customers from both the Startups and Enterprise segments
  • Partnership structures from Google Cloud
  • What’s new and what’s next

CMO Priorities as the World Changes

Alison joined Google Cloud in 2016 to be the first CMO. At the time, they were less than a billion or two in revenue, and now, they just crossed over a $30B revenue run rate. It’s been a wild growth experience, and Google Cloud is considered the fourth or fifth-largest Enterprise company in the world. 

Under her purview, Alison is responsible for Google Workspace and the Google Cloud Platform. They’re selling from SMBs, especially with Workspace, all the way through some of the largest Enterprises in the world. With the marketing team, there are a lot of the classic functions — brand marketing, product marketing, and partner marketing. Then, there are regional teams globally in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, East Africa, Japan, and Asia Pacific. 

In terms of goals, Alison and Google Cloud have five “Priority Pillars” to focus on:

  1. People and culture — ensuring they have the right talent and that everyone’s growing
  2. Lifting mindshare — shifting perception in the market. Growing share and revenue in market
  3. Driving demand — demand gen is an integral part of the equation, so hitting targets with their sales partners
  4. Driving revenue — specifically, untouched revenue; all the marketing to get people to their websites to be able to procure
  5. Efficiency and optimization — How do they get better every year in terms of reducing costs, costs per lead, and generally, what does it mean to become a more efficient scaled operation? 

Pursuing Two Different Segments: The Tale of Startups vs. Enterprise

From a marketing perspective, the GTM marketing position and product market messaging differ between Google Workspace and Google Cloud. For Google Workspace, they invested in expanding and building Google Meet and the rest of the workspace during 2020.  They also compete with Microsoft in a big way. The bigger the company, the more they compete with Microsoft. The smaller the company, the less they compete since Google Cloud is easier to procure and get up and running. 

When it comes to marketing Workspace, Alison shared they’re double down on showing off the value off of Duet AI, Google Workspace’s AI assistant. Their focus on Marketing with Duet AI with Workspace has been a way to open up business in new accounts. 

Google Cloud Platform, on the other hand, is in a very different set that also competes with Microsoft, but AWS is considered their biggest competitor in the market.  What they’re seeing with GenAI and Google Cloud is an opportunity to grab share from AWS. In particular, many more startups are using Google Cloud to access their models and LLMs. 

Right now, 70% of the GenAI startups are using Google Cloud. So, they’re seeing a big shift to Google Cloud in the startup universe. There’s two main reasons startups are going to Google for developing and integrating AI:

  1. Infrastructure: Google Cloud is optimized for AI. They build their own chips and work with NVIDIA. They’ve been using AI at Google for decades for their own users, photo discovery, YouTube, AI ads, etc.
  2. Vertex: Vertex is a really powerful platform where you can discover models. Google has its own models, or you can use open-source models or other company models.

So, they’re set up where you don’t have only one model to choose from. They’ve also:

  • Built-in all the security and controls and technology to be able to scale
  • Introduced Duet AI on the Google Cloud side to help with day-to-day coding and assistance

The way GenAI has been built into the whole stack, natively from top-to-bottom, and owning and managing a lot of the pieces has been giving Google an edge in the market. 

Attracting and Serving Multiple Segments from a Market and Marketing Perspective

“In many ways, my job has never been more interesting,” Alison says. She noted how Google is currently sitting at the intersection of not only offering their AI models but also integrating product features back into Google after a customer has built something with it. 

For example, Alison has seen a company use Vertex to create a marketing studio. A supermarket retailer in Europa had Vertex train on all of their old creative, found what was most successful, and, based on that learning in connection with the models, showed a new piece of creative. From there they created an entire marketing studio in six weeks using Vertex. 

Google Cloud has matured a lot over the last couple of years, invested in AI for such a long time, and being a part of a company that’s strongest in GenAI is what’s important for startups scaling in this direction.  We’re seeing functional Cloud companies in AI explode during this time, which is exciting, with companies like Jasper and Typeface using these tools to build more tools for organizations to create content more effectively. 

Will AI Replace Marketers?

Alison doesn’t think so. She does believe AI can replace or backfill the parts of marketing that people don’t love or are unwilling to do.

For example, they recently created a new asset called The Executive Guide to GenAI with ten steps on things you should do and how to measure your success. It was interesting because they got to interview a bunch of customers and sales executives. It was less interesting however creating blog posts, web landing pages, the email elements, and the call script based on the asset. So using AI to create all of those derivations of it was a great use for it. 

And, finally What’s New at Google Cloud:

In addition to Duet AI and Vertex, Google has a host of new programs they’ve just launched:

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