- Suresh Kumar is joining Walmart as "elevated" CTO and chief development officer, reporting directly to president and CEO Doug McMillon, the company announced Tuesday.
- Kumar served in various leadership roles at Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM before coming to the retailer, per the release. Most recently he led display, video, app ads and analytics at Google.
- His past roles at Amazon include vice president of technology for retail systems and operations. He also led Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems.
While Walmart isn’t a traditional tech company, it’s on the heels of retailers born in the tech age, like main competitor Amazon.
With more than 25 years of experience in technology, Kumar will aim to launch Walmart even further into the tech space. The retailer is inching closer to becoming the "Microsoft equivalent in 2015" and McMillon is shaping up to be the 2019 version of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, said senior analyst Andy Cross, on the Motley Fool Money podcast, earlier this month.
The retailer’s brick and mortar history isn’t holding it back from fulfilling digital demands. It has 2,450 pickup locations and 1,000 stores with delivery. Its U.S. e-commerce sales grew nearly 40% year-over-year in Q1 2020, according to the retailer’s latest quarterly SEC filing. Walmart is also working on voice integrations for ordering on the Google Assistant.
Kumar is taking over CTO responsibilities and will also lead development operations. The retailer's former U.S. CTO Jeremy King left at the end of March for digital bookmarking website Pinterest. King is credited for leading the retailer’s tech hub, Walmart Labs, through a series of acquisitions and setting Walmart up as an open source user and contributor.
The retailer already works closely with technology partners like Microsoft to help infuse startup methodology into its business. It expanded its partnership with Microsoft to further leverage the tech company’s cloud expertise at the end of last year. Kumar served as Microsoft’s corporate VP of cloud infrastructure and operations for almost four years.
Walmart is continuing to push the boundaries of retail technology. In April the retailer announced the addition of 1,500 autonomous floor-cleaning robots, 300 shelf-scanning robots, 1,200 “FAST Unloaders” for sorting items off of trucks, and 900 “Pickup Towers” for customers to pick up online orders.
Clarification: This piece has been updated to more accurately reflect the full scope of Suresh Kumar's role at Walmart.