Snowflake names Neeva co-founder as CEO with focus on AI opportunity

Data cloud company Snowflake announced today that former Neeva co-founder Sridhar Ramaswamy, who has served as Snowflake’s SVP of AI since the company acquired Neeva, an AI-powered search engine, has been named CEO.

Ramaswamy replaces Frank Slootman, who has decided to retire after 5 years as CEO. Slootman will continue to serve as chairman of the board. The news of Slootman stepping down led Snowflake’s stock to drop over 20% today.

On Snowflake’s Q4 earnings call — which beat analysts’ expectations, with revenue up 31.5% year on year to $774.7 million — Slootman addressed his retirement and Ramaswamy’s appointment. He said that since joining Snowflake, Ramaswamy has been leading Snowflake’s AI strategies, bringing new products and features to market “at an incredible pace,” including Cortex, a managed service to build LLM apps in the data cloud.

Slootman says Snowflake needs a ‘hard-driving technologist’

With the “onslaught” of generative AI, Slootman added that “Snowflake needs a hard-driving technologist to navigate the challenges the new world represents — Sridhar’s vision for the future and his proven ability to execute at scale made it clear to us as a board he’s the right executive for the right time to lead Snowflake.”

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Ramaswamy also spoke on the earnings call, saying “Snowflake is a once in a generation company that will revolutionize the world with its cloud data platform,” and that “generative AI is at the forefront of my customer conversations.”

VentureBeat spoke to Ramaswamy, who before Neeva led led all of Google’s advertising products, in a wide-ranging September 2023 interview three months after Snowflake’s acquisition of Neeva. At that time, he said that he was working to understand the company’s product roadmap and what the Neeva team will build to help Snowflake clients with broad-based search access to structured and unstructured data.

Ramaswamy has said enterprises want Snowflake’s help in AI

“One smart thing we did is start building prototypes on top of Snowflake even before the acquisition,” he said in the VentureBeat interview. “My cofounder and I forced the team to start thinking about what would we build? So we got a little bit of a running start.” Now, he added, he feels ready to tackle deep customer conversations that helps clients move on their Snowflake journey.

“Snowflake has spent the better part of 10-plus years building up amazing relationships with customers, they trust us with their data, and in turn, we take their data very, very seriously and make sure it’s safe and secure for them,” he said. A lot of enterprises, he added, turn to Snowflake to ask how they should use the power of AI in the experiences they create, both internally and for customers: “So this feels like a really good place to be.”

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