The Elusive Mr. PhillipsThe Elusive Mr. Phillips
I had my plane ticket to fly to Boston tomorrow for a press lunch with Oracle president Charles Phillips, who was going to talk about the release of Oracle Database 11g. Oracle just canceled the lunch last minute without explanation. Darn it! The elusive Mr. Phillips slips through my fingers once again.
July 9, 2007
I had my plane ticket to fly to Boston tomorrow for a press lunch with Oracle president Charles Phillips, who was going to talk about the release of Oracle Database 11g. Oracle just canceled the lunch last minute without explanation. Darn it! The elusive Mr. Phillips slips through my fingers once again.It used to be a lot easier to get Phillips on the phone or in person, back when he was called Chuck instead of Charles. But lately it's been impossible. It's not just us at InformationWeek having that problem. I've talked to several analysts and fellow press people who have grumbled about the unavailability of both Phillips and CEO Larry Ellison. At Oracle Open World in October, both delivered keynotes in a crowded auditorium, only to be quickly whisked away by their handlers. Neither granted interviews.
To be fair, Phillips has answered my questions sent via e-mail both thoughtfully and thoroughly. Both execs have answered analysts' questions during quarterly earnings conference calls. Phillips is also scheduled to answer press questions during the executive Q&A session before a room full of people at the 11g launch in Manhattan on Thursday. But as far as an interview that allows a lot of back-and-forth? So elusive. An Oracle senior PR director told me he's just too busy; Phillips is Oracle's No. 1 customer advocate, and all of these acquisitions have him constantly flying from one customer site to the next (and firming up the monthly software acquisition along the way). Phillips' only available time lately has been between, oh, say, 1 and 2 a.m., when he can sit down and answer questions via e-mail from some hotel room, I'm told. Phillips, as far as she knows, hasn't given any one-on-one interviews to journalists within about the past year. And Larry? Well, he's about as easy to catch as his Rising Sun yacht on the final leg of the America's Cup. Given the speed at which Oracle moves and the enormity of Phillips' job responsibilities, I'm convinced he's the hardest working person in the software industry. He's also one of the highest-paid non-CEOs, earning cash and stock compensation of $19 million last year, according to a calculation by the San Jose Mercury News. I'm fascinated by his rise from software industry financial analyst to one of the most powerful people in the software industry and tried to slip him a few personal questions in e-mail to learn more about the man (aren't you curious, dear reader)? Sorry, says my PR contact; Charles has become increasingly private about his personal life in recent months. I have been able to dig up a few interesting tidbits, though, like the fact that he's good friends with fellow Arkansas natives Bill and Hillary Clinton and a few months ago helped organize a $1,000-to-$4,600-per-head fund-raiser for Sen. Clinton's presidential race at a hotel near Oracle. I'm beginning to wonder if Ellison & Co. has Charles working too hard. Unfortunately, from a media perspective, his unavailability just makes him seem elusive.
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