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Thanks for the question. As I told the E-Commerce Times today for their article “Ellison Hands One Rein to Catz, the Other to Hurd,” on its surface the recent Oracle power-sharing deal sounds crazy. Larry Ellison is stepping down as CEO but remaining as CTO and is adding the responsibility of Chairman of the Board. The CEO title will be shared between two people, Safra Katz and Mark Hurd.
These sharing arrangements almost never work, as it typically adds confusion and slows down decision making. I often say that decisions are the oil that lubricates the engine of a company. The faster decisions are made, the better the company runs.
So is it time to short Oracle stock as the company begins to implode? I think not. A closer examination of the actual situation at Oracle shows that little has changed. There is no question to anyone at Oracle that Larry Ellison is still in charge. It is his company and ultimately he will be an active Chairman who makes all the tough calls.
Safra Katz and Mark Hurd will continue doing what they have been doing, which is running large chunks of the organization reporting to Larry. So while it sounds like a two-headed monster has been created, in practice I don’t think it will matter much.
I think it was done to reward Safra and Mark and give them a way to be even better compensated. The challenge it does point out is what happens when Mr. Ellison eventually has to step down. At 70 years of age, even he can’t stop the inevitable march of time. At some point difficult decisions will need to be made about how to make a smooth transition at the top. I don’t Larry is too worried about that at the moment.
September 19, 2014