Google brings in enterprise talent from Oracle

February 21, 2011, 6:52 PM UTC

Not normally known as an enterprise-focused company, Google is pulling some heavy hitters from the giant across town, including Shinichi Abe, who joined Google Enterprise Japan this month.

As Google (GOOG) makes its way into the enterprise with its apps product, it needs to bring in sales executives with experience dealing with large companies.  One of the major complaints of any Google product is the lack of human support/interfaces, and enterprise execs are extremely unlikely to sell their company’s messaging over to a Web interface.

When I spoke to Dave Girouard, Google’s president of enterprise last month, he explained that Google was focused on growing the client-facing part of the business to where its decades-old competitors were.

It turns out that a lot of the high profile people Google is recruiting are coming from cross-town rival Oracle (ORCL).

(Oracle, as a side note, is currently suing Google over rights to the Android Davlik VM which Oracle claims violates its Java intellectual property.)

The exodus started last March with the high profile grab of Amit Singh, who had two decades of experience at Oracle and spent the past eight years as a VP of sales.  He started only last month (perhaps for competitive reasons) at Google as VP of Global Sales and Operations.  Here’s Google’s now removed (but conveniently cached) bio:

Amit Singh joins Google as Vice President, International Sales and Operations for Enterprise after nearly 20 years of leadership at Oracle in different facets of the business including Product Development, Channel Management, Sales, Strategy and Acquisitions.

He may be bringing a lot of his former colleagues with him.

This month, Shinichi Abe left Oracle for Google as managing director of enterprise business, Japan. At Oracle he was VP, global strategic accounts and is still listed in Oracle Japan’s corporate profile, where he’s been a director since 2005.

LinkedIn lists Oracle as the third largest place that Google pulls talent, behind IBM (IBM) and Microsoft (MSFT), with over 450 current employees having come from Oracle.  Many of the former Oracle employees have the enterprise experience that Google is looking for. Here are a few I scrubbed from LinkedIn, there are many more.

In September, Sean Monahan, Oracle’s senior director of Oracle Insight was brought in to be an enterprise manager at Google.

(Update: Sebastien Marotte joined Google as VP Enterprise from Oracle where he was senior vice president of technology for the Asia Pacific region, based in Singapore and responsible for leading the development of Oracle’s technology solutions portfolio and defining the regional business strategy. thanks Amit Singh who notes that team building is in progress!)

Ketan (last name withheld) has been a senior sales director at Oracle since 2007. In September, he moved over to Google Enterprise to become group head of Enterprise Americas Business Development out of Austin.

Nine months ago, Mike Abare left Oracle to become a Google Enterprise account manager. Similar stories over the past few months for Peter KTravis Irby, and Brett B.

Google will need some experienced talent as it goes to battle with Microsoft over the next few years in bringing business messaging systems into the cloud.  Microsoft has an inherent advantage because many companies already use its Exchange products.  Google’s advantage is in its massive cloud scale and innovation in browser-based apps.

The tie breaker may be the companies’ human interface, which Microsoft has had decades to develop.  It is up to Google to catch up.