Global CIO: Larry Ellison And Mark Hurd: The Job Interview

A fly on the wall overhears the final stages of Ellison's conversation with Hurd to have the former HP CEO join Oracle as President of Systems.
"Right. (Sigh.) So IBM's had this Migration Factory business for several years and its sole purpose is to identify competitive installations where IBM could make a compelling case to rip and replace, and then call in the sales SWAT team to make the case, and then work it through for the customers. It's been very successful for them -- believe me, I know -- so I'm gonna take your advice and recommend we start the Cloud Transformation Business grou -- "

" -- I like this! -- "

" -- p that we can apply across various axes: private clouds, industry-specific solutions, SMBs with our channel partners, and even into middleware with things like the Integration Cloud."

"Now you're talkin', buddy! Your mistake at HP was that you attempted to trivialize IBM. They are many things, but trivial is certainly not one of them. Never has been, never will be. You tried to 'out-infrastructure' IBM at a time when they were redefining what infrastructure means, and what it does, and why it matters -- and I know you don't want to hear this, but unloading their PC business was a brilliant move.

"The creation of a line of cloud products is very inspired, particularly if you can use it to leapfrog their Migration Factory idea -- and Oracle will have all the pieces to really make that happen while everybody else is forced to play the part of specialty tinkerers. And just so you'll know, I don't plan to go off on any more of my cloud rants. But I'm telling you, don't underestimate IBM on this -- what they're doing with that extension of mainframe-level quality of services and manageability all the way through their entire server line is quite powerful."

"Larry, I agree. I hate to give IBM credit, but you're right. That's where the next wave of deals come in, starting with EMC and Netezza."

"Let's hold off on that for a second and talk about how we're gonna make all this work on a personal level. If you can't work with Charles and Safra as peers -- not with them reporting to you, but as peers -- then this will never work. And I don't mean first among equals, either -- I mean as peers. A few minutes ago, you mentioned you're not used to having people contradict you or contest you on ideas -- but trust me, pal, around here you'll find a level of debate and challenge that can be either exhilarating or crushing. There's no in-between."

"I'm a big boy, Larry -- I can handle it. I'm 53 now, and I didn't expect to be anything but a CEO for the rest of my career, but you've got something very special going on here and for the chance to be part of that (not to mention getting to give IBM some shots along the way), yeah, I can do the President of Systems thing while Charles does the President of Software thing and Safra does the President of Operations thing. But I just want to empha -- "

" -- Yes, Mark, I know, you want me to know that when/if I ever want to step aside as CEO, you're going to expect to be given full consideration."

"Okay -- we need to be straight with each other and since it looks like we're going to be able to make this arrangement work, Larry, I just wanted to be clear about that."

"Cool. And I just want to be clear that this is a job like few others in the world, and you can have a blast doing it and contribute incredible things to it but as we've discussed, this is my company -- not ours, but mine--and Mark, I'll give you and everyone else incredible autonomy and latitude and while we're working out our strategies you can take any side you want with no holds barred. But when I make a decision, it's final. Can you handle that?"


"Excellent. Well then--do you think your folks will be able to sign off on everything quickly so we can announce this during my keynote at Oracle Open World on the 19th?"

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure. See you then."

Global CIO small globe Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO, or write to Bob at [email protected].

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