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Amazon, Google, and Uber are fundamentally misunderstood, says ServiceNow CEO John Donahoe

Amazon (AMZN) delivers paper towels and candles specifically for left-handed people, Google (GOOGGOOGL) provides search results, and Uber (UBER) sends a car—but these forward-facing services sow a complete misunderstanding of the companies, according to a Silicon Valley CEO.

“They’re all cloud companies,” says John Donahoe, the former eBay CEO (EBAY) and current chief executive of management software company ServiceNow (NOW). “We call them consumer companies or mobile companies.”

“What was really underneath that is the cloud came to the consumer first,” he adds.

In addition to Amazon, Google, and Uber, Donahoe listed eBay (EBAY), PayPal (PYPL), and Lyft (LYFT) as companies that depend on cloud services. Some of these companies, like Amazon and Google, are themselves major players in the cloud-computing space. Others, like Lyft, depend on a third-party vendor to provide the cloud capability that backs their products and services.

The cloud service industry will generate $331.2 billion in revenue by 2022, according to a forecast released in April by the research firm Gartner. Last quarter, cloud services accounted for 50% of Amazon’s profit but just 13% of its sales, CNBC reported. Google does not make its cloud-based revenue public, but the company’s “other revenues,” which include cloud, grew 25% to $5.45 billion.

Cloud computing allows users to store and access data over the internet, enabling companies to keep vast amounts of information and update it at a moment's notice.

Referring to cloud-enabled services, Donahoe says, “They've completely transformed our lives at home. They take what's complex in our personal lives and make it simple and easy and intuitive.”

Donahoe made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Since 2017, Donahoe has run ServiceNow, a management software company that saw 36% year-over-year revenue growth in 2018, and just announced deals with the likes of Google and Deloitte. He worked for Bain & Company for 20 years, starting as an associate consultant and rising to become the firm's president and CEO in 1999. Then he leapt to eBay, where he served as president and CEO from 2008 to 2015.

ServiceNow CEO John Donahoe appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer.

‘The consumer mobile revolution is now the cloud revolution at work’

Near the end of Donahoe’s tenure at eBay, in the early 2010s, he realized how cloud-computing products could not only serve consumers but also businesses.

“We brought in the three born-in-the-cloud enterprise software platforms: Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow,” he says. “I began to see, for the first time, how our CIO could begin to build some experiences that were on par with what we were building for consumers every day with eBay and PayPal mobile apps.”

When he took over at ServiceNow a few years later, Donahoe took charge of developing the technology, offering services like a mobile app for employee onboarding.

“The cloud revolution is simply happening at work 10 years later than the cloud transform lives at home,” he says. “The consumer mobile revolution is now the cloud revolution at work.”

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.

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