Mark Hurd May Not Be the Answer for Oracle

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.

salesforce.com is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended subscribers open a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of IBM and Oracle at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy believes in miracles.


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  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2010, at 9:40 PM, artheen wrote:

    I am sure in the next 5 years Oracle will grow faster than it is growing today. Sun's business growth will contribute a significant percentage and Mark Hurd will be responsible for it. He has a point to prove.

    Larry Ellison will provide the necessary cover for Mark Hurd's strategy, which will be similar to what he had at HPQ, just to prove his point.

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