Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oracle CFO out the revolving door

Oracle tri-President and CFO, Gregory Maffei, resigned today after only four months on the job. He is reportedly looking to take a job as CEO of another company, not yet named.

Maffei claims his departure doesn't have anything to do with Oracle. In a press release, he says, "My resignation from Oracle is not a reflection on the company, its executives or employees."

Still, after only four months? The Wall Street Journal, in an email alert, points to conflict at the top at Oracle.
The people close to Mr. Maffei say his new job offer may be appealing because it gives him a chance to run a company -- something he now believes may not be possible at Oracle. When Mr. Maffei joined the Redwood Shores, Calif., software maker, he became one of three "co-presidents" working for Mr. Ellison.

The other executives are Charles Phillips, a former Wall Street research analyst, and Ms. Catz, a former investment banker to whom Mr. Ellison is believed to be very loyal. People familiar with the matter say Mr. Maffei and Ms. Catz clashed over some issues during his short tenure.
Not a moment that inspires confidence in Oracle.

Update, Nov. 4. Maffei's departure is looking more and more like a simple personality clash in the executive suite. According to Marketwatch,
At Piper Jaffray, analyst David Rudow echoed other analysts' views that the CFO's departure doesn't signal "any fundamental issue at the company or any potential negative accounting issue."

"We think Mr. Maffei's departure was more of a cultural or personality fit with other management team members," Rudow said, based on his conversations with software industry insiders.

"The culture at Oracle appears to be intense, to say the very least," the Piper Jaffray analyst commented in a research brief. He rates the stock outperform.
Interestingly, Oracle's stock is up today on the news.

Update, Nov. 4. Today's Wall Street Journal online has more:
Some analysts said the high rate of executive turnover at the company lately -- and the fact that its top managers were being recruited from the outside, instead of from within -- raised questions.

"It makes you wonder a little bit about what the whole succession strategy is, and what it says about an organization that isn't able to promote somebody to the top and have them stay," said Drew Brosseau, an SG Cowen analyst.
Red Herring has an article with lots of analyst comments on the interpersonal issues.

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