Ellison Leaves Apple Board

Oracle chief executive doesn't have time to devote to Apple as his company reports sagging sales.

Oracle Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Lawrence J. Ellison is stepping down from his position on the board of directors at Apple Computer Inc. the company announced this morning.

"I will continue to offer my advice to [Apple CEO] Steve [Jobs] and the executive management team at Apple, but my schedule does not currently allow me to attend enough of the formal board meetings to warrant a role as a director," Ellison said, in a statement.

Ellison joined the board of the Cupertino, Calif., maker of the Macintosh operating system and a line of compatible computer hardware five years ago after his friend Jobs took over as CEO. Before the return of Jobs, who had founded Apple in the 1970s, Ellison had been rumored to be interested in buying the company or a large chunk of its stock.

Although Apple software has made only a slight impression on most enterprises, Oracle, one of the leading database vendors, is porting its database software to Apples Mac OS X operation system.

Getting a high-profile technology leader to join its board was an important marketing coup for Apple, said Giga Information Group analyst Rob Enderle. However, the company is doing better and now doesnt necessarily need Ellisons presence to give it that marketing boost, he added.

Enderle said he suspects that Ellison, when he did attend the Apple board meetings, was probably a "problematic board member. Larrys never really been known as a team player," Enderle said. Ellison and Jobs have similarly large egos "and strong, domineering personalities," he said. "It was probably never beneficial when [Larry] was there."

Enderle doubts there will be much impact on Apples business since there were few synergies between Apple and Oracle.

Officials at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., declined to comment beyond the press release announcing Ellisons decision.

Separately, Oracle, the worlds second-largest software company, earlier this week reported that revenues in its recently completed fiscal first quarter had slipped more than 10 percent from the same quarter last year to $2.03 billion. Profits fell nearly 33 percent to $343 million.

Sales of new licenses for the companys database and enterprise software fell by 23 percent in Oracles fiscal first quarter to $549 million. Database sales in Europe and Asia were particularly hard hit, officials said.

Although Oracles revenues have fallen for six consecutive quarters and executives lowered previous earnings projections for the next quarter, CEO Larry Ellison said he looked for the company to rebound slowly.

(Editors note: This story has been edited since its original posting to add comments from Enderle and Oracle.)

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