Oracle announced on Thursday that Ellison had been elected executive chairman of the board and was also appointed chief technology officer. Taking over as CEO will be Safra Catz (above, left) and Mark Hurd (center). Catz will also continue in her role as chief financial officer, which she took on in 2011. Hurd, who has served as president, joined Oracle in 2010.
As CEO, Catz will continue to oversee Oracle’s manufacturing, finance and legal functions. The company’s , service and vertical industry global business units will report to Hurd.
“The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future,” Ellison said Thursday. “Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine.”
‘Acknowledges the Current Situation’
We reached out to IDC analyst Mike Fauscette to ask what Thursday’s announcement means for Oracle.
“It just acknowledges the current situation,” Fauscette said. “I just don’t think it changes much at all from a strategic standpoint.”
Ellison, who turned 70 this year, has always made it clear he was most interested in focusing on products and technology and that will remain his focus with the title of CTO, Fauscette said.
Beyond “a nice change in title for two people,” naming Catz and Hurd to the CEO position doesn’t change either of those executives’ responsibilities much either, Fauscette said.
‘The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison’
Ellison founded the company that was to become Oracle with two investment partners in 1977. The company took on its current name in 1982 with the launch of its Oracle database.
Since then, Oracle has grown to a global firm with 400,000-plus customers and more than $37 billion in annual revenues. Ellison, meanwhile, went on to accrue a personal wealth of nearly $50 billion, making him the fifth richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
The yacht-racing, plane-flying Ellison has also been one of the more colorful executives in the technology world, as Mike Wilson, now managing editor of the site FiveThirtyEight, described in his 2003 book, “The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison.”
“I think Larry’s decision is not as important as it looks,” Wilson told us. “Larry has never primarily been interested in the day-to-day role of a CEO. He has served for years as visionary in chief while others ran the company for him. Now’s he’s giving the executive title to others, but any Oracle leader who tries to take the company in a direction Larry doesn’t want to go will quickly be corrected. Larry is Oracle and Oracle is Larry.”
Asked to recount Ellison’s most momentous decision as CEO, Wilson said, “The most important decision Larry ever made as CEO was hiring Ray Lane and Jeff Henley to run the company in the early ’90s. Oracle was in a crisis because Larry hadn’t managed it well, and he saved it by giving control of it to more seasoned leaders. It was one of the bravest things he ever did, because he had to put his ego aside.”