Safra: Hey, Larry, you big stud!
Larry: That's me, honey.
Safra: Take me to the CEO office or lose me forever.
Larry: Show me the way home, honey.
-- Loosely adapted from Top Gun
The revolving door in Oracle's
Last summer, President Safra Catz was forced to share her rank with freshly ousted Hewlett-Packard
The move made no sense to me; Catz certainly needs no hand-holding, and Hurd's predecessor on the co-president seat, Charles Philips, could simply have left in a scandal-tinged huff rather than being replaced. In fact, doing so would have clarified Oracle's succession plans behind charismatic CEO Larry Ellison.
Well, CFO Jeff Epstein just left Oracle for no obvious reason. That puts Catz back in the CFO role, which she previously filled from 2005 to 2008 and also briefly in spring 2005 to bookend the short-lived reign of Greg Maffei.
It's not exactly a promotion -- in fact, Epstein used to report directly to Catz, so it's more like a director assuming the duties of a lower manager. She has been president in an unbroken stint since 2004, concurrent with her CFO fill-ins. The CFO position is said to be permanent this time, but I expect the president tag to stay attached as well.
In many companies, the CFO is the second-highest title available, and the position comes with higher visibility to the public. Not that Catz is a stranger to Oracle's earnings calls. In the third-quarter call, she answered as many analyst questions as Mark Hurd did, and Epstein didn't say a word after rattling off his prepared remarks.
So Catz is back in the catbird seat with an expanded set of duties, taking full advantage of her banking background. CFOs leaving the job for no obvious reason can play havoc with your stock price, as Netflix
But I think this is a positive move for Oracle and probably more of a Catz promotion than an Epstein scandal. Also, Mark Hurd should now know who's boss in the presidential suite. Oh, and I suppose Ms. Catz's name isn't on the table for high-tech CEO searches anymore.
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