Larry Ellison: So what does it mean for Larry? Even though he owns more than a quarter of the company, he now appears to have a bossin Henleyfor the first time. But since Henley has been on the board, and the board members are still mostly loyal to Larry, thats not such a big deal. This move is more about keeping Henley, Catz and Phillips happy than anything else. But it also signals a shift for Ellison. Although it appears to be Ellisons first step toward irrelevancy and retirement, my sources say thats just not so. The programmer who built Oracle has realizedmuch as Bill Gates did a few years agothat all that corporate stuff really isnt much fun. The real challenge, for the technically savvy, is to continue to build "insanely great" products year after year (to borrow a phrase from Ellison pal Steve Jobs). Ellison hears the siren song of software development, and thats what makes him really happy. Forget investor relations, HR policy, Sarbanes Oxley and the like. Larrys earned the right to go back to the lab, and thats just where hell be. It looks like, at least for the next few years, Larry will be just as engaged. But on building new products, combating open source and expanding the technologyinstead of focusing on 10-Qs, the SEC and Californias Office of IT.In the end, this is about three things. First, it shows that Larrys gotten over the wrenching breakup with Ray Lane and is finally ready to trust someone else in the presidential role. But by selecting two co-presidents its clear hes just dating and not ready to commit. Secondly, Oracle had to figure out some way to keep Henley onhes the one guy Wall Street can really trust, and has since 1991. Chairman of the board is perfect, with a reduced schedule, yet vast influence. And lastly, it does appear Larrys giving up controlin the same way Gates turned Microsofts reins over to Steve Ballmer. At 59, hes finally starting to feel comfortable with his role as a technologist. And for Oracle, thats a good thing. With Larry as chief architect, and a strong supporting cast of business leaders around him, Oracle might just beat back its newest set of challengersincluding worldwide leaders like SAP, and upstarts like OpenSQL and PostgreSQL too.
Losers: Along with Henley, Phillips and Katz, Oracle has two other key senior VPs: Sergio Giacoletto, who runs Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Keith Block, who runs North American sales and consulting. With Phillips leapfrogging the twogaining the co-presidency and jumping onto the boardmy reading of the tea leaves indicates that these two execs have fallen out of favor. Whether its a minor dust-up or if both will be leaving Oracle shortly remains to be seen.