Those who are excited to see Mark Hurd replace Charles Phillips at Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) are ignoring history. Phillips and co-president Safra Catz presided over what may be an unprecedented era of peace in the database king's history.
Phillips and Catz have been the yin to CEO Larry Ellison's yang, helping Oracle's business grow to challenge not only Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) in corporate software, but also IBM (NYSE: IBM ) and Hurd's former employer, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , in hardware.
Contrast this company with the one that languished when Ellison drove out former company president Ray Lane, now a venture capitalist with Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers. Or the one that drove Marc Benioff to leave to create salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) . Or the one that pushed Gary Bloom and Craig Conway into top spots with onetime competitors Veritas and PeopleSoft. That Oracle became a slow-growth nobody until an acquisitions binge added life.
Who made sure the purchased companies added value to the bottom line? Phillips and Catz did, along with thousands of unheralded employees who proved outstanding at executing Ellison's vision.
In the end, investing is about studying the mosaic, rather than the moment. Oracle looks good today, because Hurd is an undisputed talent with experience Oracle badly needs. Yet Phillips, too, was an asset. I'll miss the reliable quiet he brought to the job.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you think Hurd gives Oracle an unfair advantage? Let the debate begin in the comments box below.