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Walmart has hired Suresh Kumar, a former executive at Amazon, Microsoft and Google, as its new global chief technology officer and chief development officer.

His role, the Wall Street Journal writes, will be to “lead global technology, creating a new senior role as the world’s biggest retailer ramps up its efforts to take on Amazon.”

CEO Doug McMillon said yesterday that Kumar will oversee both internal and consumer-facing technology efforts, speeding up Walmart’s transformation into a digital company.

Kumar most recently has been “a vice president at Google where he worked on the company’s network advertising as well as advertising on Gmail and parts of YouTube,” the Journal writes. “He previously spent about four years at Microsoft Corp. working on cloud infrastructure. Before that he spent nearly 15 years at Amazon, where he oversaw about 500 engineers working on core retail functions, such as pricing, supply chain and vendor management.”

The story points out that “Walmart is working to becoming an increasingly tech-focused company, buying up e-commerce startups, investing heavily to boost online sales, adding more grocery-delivery options and working to ramp up its digital ad revenue.”

Walmart’s former CTO, Jeremy King, left to become Pinterest’s head of engineering.
KC's View:
The chemistry has to be right. There was a time when I would’ve thought that this was an admirable effort doomed to failure because of the cultural chasm that existed between Bentonville and Silicon Valley. But that is less and less the case, as Walmart has become more nimble.

The competition for people like Kumar is going to become more intense, I’m guessing, as companies look for any advantage, any angle, that will give it the slightest edge in these wars.