Larry Ellison has stepped down as chief executive of Oracle, in a surprise move just ahead of the firm’s annual OpenWorld event, and on the back of a set of financial results that missed market targets.
Ellison will be replaced as CEO by long-term CFO Safra Catz and newer member of the Oracle family and ex-HP chief, Mark Hurd, who will take co-CEO roles. Ellison will continue at the company he founded in 1977 in the role of chief technology officer and executive chairman of the Oracle Board.
However, in day-to-day setup of the organisation, there will be little difference. Catz will continue to have responsibility for Oracle’s manufacturing, finance and legal functions, while Hurd will continue to run the sales, service and vertical industry global business units. Ellison will retain responsibility for software and hardware engineering.
As Ellison explained: “Safra and Mark will now report to the Oracle Board rather than to me. All the other reporting relationships will remain unchanged. 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.”
The move will allow Ellison to fully focus on his preferred area of product engineering, technology development and strategy, without needing to focus on sales, financial or legal aspects.
Although Ellison, 70, was expected to step away from Oracle at some stage, there was no indication that this would happen at this point. Along with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Ellison is among a small number of chief executives who founded one of the technology pioneers, and remained at the helm of the firm, combining tech expertise with business nous.
Aside from being an outspoken member of tech royalty, Ellison is well-known for being extremely hands-on with product development and engineering at Oracle – a fact highlighted by his OpenWorld speeches, which reveal his passion for minute technical detail – and for his more recent passion for sailing, capped by winning the America’s Cup in 2013.
While Oracle saw a rise in revenues and profits for its latest set of results, also revealed on Thursday, the firm missed analyst expectations. Oracle and its investors will be hoping the executive reshuffle will help the firm finally meet expectations for its next set of financials, after missing several quarters. A key area of focus for the firm is cloud computing, as it attempts to shift its earnings from on-premise and long-standing software licences to more cloud-based revenue.
V3 will be attending a financial analysts forum during OpenWorld, and so we will likely hear full details on Oracle’s plans for the future then. Ellison is due to host two keynotes at the event in San Francisco.
The firm is yet to confirm to V3 whether these will go ahead, although we expect they will.