Urs Holzle to step down from executive management

Urs Holzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, speaks about the Google Cloud Platform during a conference on June 25, 2014, in San Francisco.

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Google employee No. 8 Urs Holzle will step back from management after 24 years of leading technical teams, CNBC has learned.

Most recently leading technical infrastructure for Google Cloud and reporting directly to CEO Thomas Kurian, Holzle oversaw an organization that consisted of more than 12,000 full-time employees.

In the transition, Holzle will be classified as an “individual contributor,” which means he will be working independently and no longer managing employees.

Holzle has been a pivotal figure within Google since its early days. In infrastructure, the company has claimed his team reduced the energy used by Google data centers to less than 50% of the industry average.

In an email to employees Tuesday, Holzle said he will focus on a small number of technical assignments at a time as well as advising. Part of that will include articulating technical AI processes, facilitating discussions and encouraging quicker decision making, his memo stated.

His email went on to say this is one of the most interesting and impactful years in a long time and that he’s been wanting to do more technical work.

The move comes amid a shakeup within the company’s cloud organization, according to an email from Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian viewed by CNBC.

Chris Vonderhaar will lead Cloud Supply Chain and Operations and will leave Amazon Web Services after 13 years at the company, where his most recent role was vice president of AWS Data Center Community. Ben Treynor Sloss, vice president of engineering at Google Cloud, will begin reporting directly to Kurian. Kurian noted a couple of other shifts.

Kurian’s note said making technical decisions more quickly is more important than ever.

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google faces pressure to continue growing cloud revenue after the unit reported its first profitable quarter in April. The company also faces competition from Amazon and Microsoft in both cloud offerings and artificial intelligence.

In a separate reorganization among Google’s artificial intelligence and research teams in April, Jeff Dean, who long ran Google’s AI efforts, also became classified as an “individual contributor” and given a new title as “chief scientist.”

The move also comes as Google calls for limiting remote work as it tries to get employees to return to physical offices. Holzle sparked internal controversy in 2021 after announcing he’d move to New Zealand while the company started asking employees to come back to the office, resulting in workers complaining the company had a double-standard for higher-ups.

In recent all-hands meetings, more company executives have made physical appearances.

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