Google's top cloud exec drops out of Saudi 'Davos in the Desert' conference following disappearance of journalist 

  • Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene will no longer attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, a company spokesperson says.
  • Greene joins the list of Silicon Valley leaders to drop out of the conference following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene will no longer speak at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, joining a number of Silicon Valley leaders to drop out of the high-profile event following the disappearance and suspected slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime, didn't emerge from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. Turkish media outlets have said that audio and video evidence prove that Khashoggi was killed by an elite Saudi "assassination squad," though the Saudi regime has pushed back against those allegations.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene delivers a keynote at the company's 2018 NEXT conference. 
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene delivers a keynote at the company's 2018 NEXT conference. 

As global outrage has grown over Khashoggi's disappearance, tech executives including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, AOL co-founder Steve Case and others have all dropped out of the so-called "Davos in the Desert," which brings together business leaders from all over the world.

J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman have all cancelled their attendance as well.

A company spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that Greene will not attend the conference though offered no further comment.

Although Silicon Valley has sought to distance itself from the Saudi government, many start-ups such as Uber, Slack, and WeWork have received money from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, primarily through SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund. The Public Investment fund co-hosts the FII conference, which is scheduled for Oct. 23 to 25 in Riyadh.