Google Executive Pulls Out of Saudi ‘Davos’; Cloud Deal Remains
(Bloomberg) -- Google executive Diane Greene is dropping out of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming “Davos in the Desert” summit, joining a procession of U.S. business titans who have reneged on the invitation in the wake of the disappearance of a prominent government critic.
Greene, who runs the cloud unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, “will not be attending” the Future Investment Initiative, a spokesman wrote in an email.
Over the last few days, several other corporate leaders had already backed away from the conference scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Riyadh. Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., dropped out of the event on Sunday night, joining Blackstone Group LP CEO Steve Schwarzman, Uber Technologies Inc.’s Dara Khosrowshahi and others. Turkish officials allege Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who lived in self-imposed exile, was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul after entering the building on Oct. 2.
Greene waited longer than her peers to make the decision. Google didn’t say if her move would affect its cloud business in the country. In March, the state-run Saudi Aramco announced a deal with Google for cloud-computing services, unveiled as a part of an economic modernization push within the Kingdom. Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Google in April, during a Silicon Valley tour, and met with Greene and other executives. The Saudi delegation also rode in one of the company’s self-driving cars.
Google has dealt with a spate of ethical issues lately. Thousands of employees have voiced opposition to plans for a censored search engine in China. Earlier this year, Greene was forced to back away from a cloud contract with the Pentagon after an employee uprising. Google then removed itself from the running for JEDI, a Defense Department cloud contract worth up to $10 billion, citing the company’s new principles for the use of its artificial intelligence.
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