Larry Ellison steps down as Oracle CEO, Catz, Hurd named co-CEOs

Ellison will become CTO and executive chairman of Oracle

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison

It's the end of an era at Oracle, as CEO Larry Ellison has been appointed executive chairman and CTO of the vendor, with co-presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd named co-CEOs.

"Safra and Mark will now report to the Oracle Board rather than to me," Ellison said in a statement. "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. Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine."

Oracle's announcement came without warning as it also released first-quarter earnings results.

Catz will remain in charge of manufacturing, finance and legal operations, while Hurd continues handling sales, service and global business units, according to a statement.

All software and hardware engineering will remain under the oversight of Ellison.

The stunning announcement came not long after Ellison's 70th birthday and shortly before the company's annual OpenWorld event, where Ellison is expected to play a major role. While the industry has long speculated about whether Ellison would ever retire from Oracle, until now he has kept his plans closely held.

Ellison's many outside interests, such as his purchase of the Hawaiian island Lanai, his many palatial homes and his victorious America's Cup sailing team, had only served to ramp up speculation about his future with Oracle.

At the same time, Ellison is known for keeping close tabs on Oracle's product development, something he'll apparently continue to do as CTO.

Ellison "guided Oracle through some remarkably choppy technological and economic rough waters, and has done so with remarkable success and continuity. He is quite a character, but he is also an extremely bright and innovative businessman," said Charles King, head of Pund-IT in response to the news that Ellison is stepping aside as CEO.

Oracle executives may discuss Ellison's shifting role further during an earnings conference call. News of his shifting role at the company came as it reported a slight revenue increase and flat income.

Total revenue rose 3 per cent to $US8.6 billion for the first quarter ended Aug. 31, while net income was flat at $US2.2 billion.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) revenue rose 32 per cent to $US337 million, while hardware systems revenue fell 8 per cent to $US1.2 billion. Both are key areas for Oracle, which derives the bulk of its sales from on-premises software and annual maintenance fees.

"Our Cloud business is already three times the size of Workday, but we won't be satisfied until we're number one in the Cloud," Hurd said in a statement.

OpenWorld will feature the rollout of Oracle's long-anticipated database cloud service, Ellison said in a statement. With the service, "our customers and ISV's can move any of their existing Oracle databases and applications to the Oracle Cloud with the push of a button."

(Joab Jackson in New York contributed to this report.)

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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