Larry Ellison: Oracle co-founder steps aside as chief executive after 35 years at the helm

Oracle appoints two chief executives to replace Ellison - Safra Catz and Mark Hurd- who will now be executive chairman and chief tech officer

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The Independent Online

Oracle said on Thursday that its co-founder Larry Ellison will give up his role as chief executive and become the software giant’s executive chairman and chief technology officer.

In an unusual move, Oracle appointed two chief executives to replace Ellison - Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, who are currently co-presidents of the company.

Some analysts interpreted the move as Oracle’s attempt to bring in new leaders to address the huge challenge from rivals who have moved fast into cloud computing markets. Others were confused by the move.

All software and hardware engineering functions at Oracle will continue to report to Ellison.

"Larry has made it very clear that he wants to keep working full time and focus his energy on product engineering, technology development and strategy," said Oracle director Michael Boskin. "Safra and Mark are exceptional executives who have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to lead, manage and grow the company. The directors are thrilled that the best senior executive team in the industry will continue to move the company forward into a bright future."

All manufacturing, finance and legal functions of Oracle will continue to report to Catz, and all sales, service and “vertical industry global business units” will continue to report to Hurd, the company said.

"Safra and Mark will now report to the Oracle Board rather than to me," said Larry Ellison. "All the other reporting relationships will remain unchanged. The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future. Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine."

Jeff Henley, Oracle's chairman for the last 10 years, was appointed vice-chairman.

 "While there was some speculation Larry could step down, the timing is a bit of a head scratcher and the (Wall) Street will have many questions," Daniel Ives, analyst at FBR Capital Markets, told Reuters.

"Investors have a mixed view of Safra and especially Hurd as co-CEOs given the missteps we have seen from the company over the past few years."

Oracle shares fell as much as 2.4 percent to $40.55 in after-hours trading, after it reported sales below Wall Street's average forecast.

Hurd made his name as chairman and chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, but he left that company in 2010 following allegations that he falsified expenses reports and covered up a relationship with a female contractor.

Catz joined Oracle in 1999 and she is currently the company’s chief financial officer.

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