Two Oracle co-presidents will succeed founder Larry Ellison as co-CEOs. But CEO job sharing at US companies has historically been unsuccessful. Fred Katayama reports.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's move to step down caught investors by surprise. And many are concerned about his decision to have his two co-presidents jointly replace him as co-CEOs. Sharing his corner office: sales whiz Mark Hurd and finance and law expert Safra Catz. Ellison hired Hurd after he was dumped as CEO of HP in the wake of sexual harassment claims. Catz is a former Wall Street banker who played major roles in Oracle's myriad of acquisitions. Hurd has been criticized at Oracle because the database company keeps stumbling on sales. Reuters correspondent Nadia Damouni suspects Ellison made the unusual move because he couldn't afford to see both he and Catz go. SOUNDBITE: NADIA DAMOUNI, CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There's been a lot of analysts and investors particularly skeptical of Mark Hurd because a number of quarters, the last 18 months, Oracle had actually missed sales. What's happened as a result, a lot of investors have questioned if he's the right guy to succeed Ellison. Safra Catz on the other hand means the world to Larry. He always was close to Safra and she remains a confidant of his. By giving them co-CEO roles, it's clear he doesn't want to lose Mark Hurd and Safra Catz in the process." Ellison, the founder of the company, ruled Oracle for 37 years and grew the company into one of the pioneering giants of Silicon Valley. JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens was critical of the move, saying, "There is no substitute for Larry Ellison ... we think that change is significant -- either you are CEO or you are not." CEO job sharing at U.S. companies has historically been unsuccessful, and both Catz and Hurd are said to have strong personalities. Oracle shares lost ground in early trading, chipping away at its 8 percent gain this year.