Greg Maffei quits after just four months; analysts say he may have started at the wrong time.
Posted Nov 4, 2005
CFO and Copresident Greg Maffei resigned on Thursday after four months on the job to pursue a position as CEO of another company. He is the second CFO to depart the giant software company this year. Maffei will remain at Oracle until November 15, when his duties will be assumed Copresident Safra Catz, currently responsible for mergers and acquisitions. Oracle's third copresident, Charles Phillips, who oversees sales, marketing, and other functions. "Greg has told us he's looking at a terrific professional opportunity," Oracle CEO and Cofounder Larry Ellison said in a written statement. "We wish him well."
Maffei was hired on June 24, 2005, to replace Harry You, who quit Oracle in March after eight months to become the CEO of BearingPoint. The news comes after Rick Sherlund of Goldman Sachs, raised questions about Maffei's future at Oracle on Thursday, noting Maffei had missed a recent meeting with analysts in New York and canceled another scheduled for next week. This, in turn, spurred a series of media inquiries that led to the confirmation of Maffei's departure. "My resignation from Oracle is not a reflection on the company, its executives, or employees," Maffei said in a statement.
Oracle's biggest rival, German giant SAP AG, seized on Maffei's departure as a marketing opportunity. "The loss of a trophy CFO like this puts a very interesting question mark on Oracle," said Bill Wohl, SAP spokesman. "Right now, Oracle is doing a pretty good job of making SAP look like a better choice for customers."
While at Oracle, Maffei was involved with, but did not lead, the company's recent acquisitions. In the past year Phillips and Catz have been guiding a recent $17 billion shopping spree that has included takeovers of rivals PeopleSoft, Retek, and a pending deal to buy Siebel Systems, which is expected to close in early 2006.
Maffei rose to prominence in the high-tech industry for two years as Microsoft's CFO; he left that position in early 2000. Before joining Oracle, Maffei had been CEO of 360networks. His departure from Oracle has industry analysts questioning the dynamics of the company's management team, namely finding a CFO who can work with a strong-willed executive team led by Ellison. "This doesn't change any of the business fundamentals, but it makes you worry about the way the company is picking its people," says Piper Jaffray analyst David Rudow. "Oracle is a tough place to work; it's like a battle every day."
Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst at The 451 Group, says joining the Redwood-based company during the middle of the Siebel acquisition might have been bad timing. "Maffei's move from Microsoft's CFO was a parallel one," he says. "Here's a guy that comes in at the time of the Siebel acquisition and is dealing with that, along with a strong-willed executive team that is active in mergers and acquisitions. I think it might have been a control issue with Chuck and Safra, not so much with Ellison. It was a weird time to come in. Maybe he realized he made a mistake."
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