It’s official, Larry Ellison is no longer on top at Oracle. There’s no doubt the guy had an impressive – and profitable – run. Now the market, not to mention Oracle’s competitors, are watching developments closely.
The first thing they noticed is that Ellison is definitely not going away. He will remain chairman of Oracle’s board and step into the role of Chief Technology Officer. The CEO title will be shared by Mark Hurd and Sarfra Catz, current presidents at the company.
Ellison has helmed the Oracle on its roller coaster ride since the company was founded in late 1977. Under his leadership, Oracle became one of the world’s largest database software and business software suppliers. In a marketplace that boasts world-renowned brands like Intel, Apple, and Microsoft, Businessweek called Oracle the “backbone of modern commerce.”
At seventy, Ellison was the last of the old guard founding CEOs of these tech giants. Throughout his tenure, Ellison developed a reputation for being media friendly and welcoming PR attention. From his Silicon Valley homestead to all the toys and trappings of wealth to the much-publicized purchase of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, Ellison certainly enjoyed his success. And who can blame him?
He also sponsored a winning America’s Cup team. Not Ellison’s only foray into the world of international sports, he also purchased and successfully rebranded and mass marketed the Indian Wells tennis tournament.
Not that every foray into the spotlight has been so positive. Ellison and Oracle feuded repeatedly with competitor Microsoft. More often than not, Ellison cast himself as the aggressor … and won most of those battles. But rather than being seen as a bully, Ellison was primarily viewed as a flamboyant, but brilliant, businessman. Likeable, despite rarely playing the role of underdog.
The old saw is that people love an underdog. But Ellison’s tale is a clinic in how to play the perennial winner and still come out ahead in business and public relations. Part of his appeal has been his vigorous support for his comrades. He has a history of defending and acclaiming Hurd and Catz, extolling the men and their abilities at every opportunity. The public loves it when the boss stands shoulder to shoulder with his executive staff, and it doesn’t hurt that Ellison knows how to back winners.
Guess it takes one to know one.