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Usermind CEO Michel Feaster, left, and Pulumi CEO Joe Duffy speak at the 2018 GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in Bellevue. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon is a pioneer in cloud computing, and the current market leader, but not the tech titan with the greatest future opportunity, according to a panel of technology CEOs who spoke Wednesday at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in Bellevue, Wash.

It’s still early in the game for the cloud computing industry — the panelists agreed that it’s about the second quarter. And each of the CEOs — when given the choices of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce — had a different pick when asked which tech titan is best positioned to take advantage of the cloud.

Interestingly, no one chose Amazon.

BitTitan CEO Geeman Yip, Usermind CEO Michel Feaster and Pulumi CEO Joe Duffy — a former Microsoft vet who just brought his company out of stealth mode — debated their picks and offered their predictions on where the market is heading.

Duffy sees big things ahead for Google Cloud. Its home-grown technology — Kubernetes, one of the hottest trends in cloud tech — is among the best.

Joe Duffy, CEO of Pulumi. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Google has “an amazing opportunity,” Duffy said. He added: “I think culturally Google struggles to execute on that opportunity, but they’ve got Diane (Greene) at the helm, so we’ll see what happens.”

Gaining a foothold with enterprise customers will be key to capitalizing on the opportunity, Duffy said.

“They have the DNA,” Duffy said of Google. “Bringing Diane in gives them the enterprise DNA, and now it’s execution time.”

Michel Feaster, CEO of Usermind, which makes software that helps companies pay closer attention to customer needs, disagrees.

“I’d say Microsoft is kicking everyone’s ass,” said Feaster, a former Apptio and Mercury Interactive employee who started Usermind in 2013. Google is in a tough spot because — unlike Microsoft — the search and advertising giant doesn’t currently have a direct pipeline into large enterprise customers. Building that is tough, she said.

Michel Feaster, Usermind CEO. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

“Diane is a genius from the product strategy front, but she doesn’t know shit about selling from my point of view,” Feaster said. “I think Google is the least well-positioned, and they’re going to pivot to other businesses because they’re going to have to.”

Duffy added that Microsoft has that “extreme enterprise DNA” and the ability to bundle its wealth of services to existing customers to move them even further into its ecosystem.

BitTitan’s Yip picked Salesforce, encouraging the software-as-a-service powerhouse to conduct more acquisitions in a move to expand into payroll, HR and other “low-hanging fruit.”

“They could absolutely seize that market today around customer success, sales and marketing, those core functionalities of every organization in the world,” said Yip, whose company’s MigrationWiz software allows organizations to migrate email and data.

Geeman Yip, BitTitan CEO. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

All three CEOs agreed that there won’t be just a single victor in the cloud market.

Pulumi is betting on that, with a focus on “multicloud,” meaning using multiple cloud providers.

Feaster says today’s cloud competition reminds her of the operating system debates of the past with Windows, Linux, Unix and others.

“The idea that there is going to be one monolithic AWS or Azure — no way,” Feaster said. “Abstraction will emerge, Kubernetes, multicloud, containers, that’s where value moves. To me it’s just the same ideas being repeated.”

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