A New Seer at Oracle
Oracle today announced the appointment of a new president and CFO, former Microsoft executive Greg Maffei. He joins Safra Catz and Charles Phillips in the role of president, effectively immediately. Maffei will take over as CFO in July, replacing Catz, who was an interim choice after Harry You resigned in March. Maffei served as Microsoft's CFO from July 1997 to January 2000, and oversaw the company's $35 billion cash and strategic investment portfolio. His move to Oracle comes six months the company completed a $10.6 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft.
Maffei is known for his history of investments and acquisitions at Microsoft, but Catz will continue to lead mergers and acquisitions for Oracle, according to the company. "Catz has done an exceptional job at her position, and will continue to handle Oracle's financial moves in terms of M&A," a company spokesman says.
Industry analysts say it is too early to speculate on company direction, but most agree that Oracle had an executive hole to fill and that Maffei is a good fit. "This move is a financial/business one," says Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager Yankee Group. "Oracle has plenty of technology--they needed more of a business execution guy. Do they need [to acquire] Siebel? Not necessarily. Do they need other applications to round things out? Yeah."
Other industry watchers disagree with the general perception of Maffei as an acquisitions guru. "While this was a great hire for Oracle, I don't necessarily see him as being a deal-maker," says Chris Selland, principal analyst for Covington Associates. "At Microsoft the deals with Comcast and AT&T were investments, not acquisitions."
Selland contends that Maffei won't be quarterbacking future acquisitions for Oracle, and he says that there is a chance Maffei eventually could replace Larry Ellison as CEO. "It's far too early to speculate [whether] he's going to be Larry's replacement, but they're certainly beefing up their internal executive staff. At some point, the company does need a succession plan."
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