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9/22/2014
11:40 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Ellison & 7 Other Tech Lions Still Roaring

Larry Ellison's non-retirement reminds us of a few other tech industry elder statesmen still in the thick of running their companies.



10 New Side Projects For Larry Ellison
10 New Side Projects For Larry Ellison
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

What do Larry Ellison, John Chambers, Dave Duffield, Jim Goodnight, Sandy Kurtzig, Hasso Plattner, Mark Templeton, and Joe Tucci have in common? Not one of them is retired.

As we reported last week, Oracle's co-founder Larry Ellison is not really "stepping down," as many news outlets misreported; he's really stepping up. Oracle press releases and executives never used the word "retirement." Yes, Ellison is giving up the CEO title, but he has long been above the fray of day-to-day corporate operational management.

Safra Catz, newly named co-CEO, will continue to manage Oracle's finances, and Mark Hurd, the other co-CEO, will continue to manage all sales and service operations. Otherwise, "there will actually be no changes whatsoever" in Oracle's leadership structure, Catz noted. Ellison will continue to set the company's strategy as Executive Chairman, and he'll continue to direct all product engineering "exactly as I have in the past," he explained.

[Want the facts, not the me-too misreporting? Read Oracle Leader Ellison Is Not 'Stepping Down'.]

This non-retirement puts us in mind of a few other tech industry elder statesmen who haven't exactly "stepped down." Some, like Ellison, have backed away from the day-to-day stuff, but several of these 60-plus and 70-plus executives are still CEOs, and all of them are still actively involved in running their companies.

Here, then, is a roundup of tech sexagenarian and septuagenarians, in addition to Ellison, who are still going strong.

John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco. Chambers, 65, said in 2012 that he expected to retire within two to four years, but the chief of Cisco has yet to name an heir apparent among likely candidates including sales president Robert Lloyd, field operations SVP Chuck Robbins, and services SVP Edzard Overbeek. After stints at IBM and Wang Laboratories, Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 and was named CEO in 1995. He added the Chairman title in 2006, and it would be no surprise to see him retain that position even if he steps down as CEO.

IT elder statesmen, from left, John Chambers, Dave Duffield, Larry Ellison, and Jim Goodnight.
IT elder statesmen, from left, John Chambers, Dave Duffield, Larry Ellison, and Jim Goodnight.

Dave Duffield, Chairman, Workday. Duffield, 73, stepped down as co-CEO of Workday in May, but he's still chairman and continues to be involved in the company's education and government businesses and development of the Workday Student application. Duffield could have retired after selling PeopleSoft, the company he co-founded in 1987, to Oracle in 2005. Instead that same year he co-founded Workday with Aneel Bhusri (now sole CEO) and helped build it into one of the hottest cloud-based application vendors in the industry.

Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS. Goodnight, 71, is "not the retiring type," CMO Jim Davis told InformationWeek back in 2011. Goodnight co-founded SAS Institute in 1976. Long among the largest privately held software companies in the world, SAS had $3 billion in revenue in 2013. Generous employee benefits

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have repeatedly placed SAS at or near the top of Fortune magazine's "Best Places to Work." Goodnight, whose net worth is estimated at $7.3 billion, has been equally generous with elementary and secondary schools, backing his keen interest in improving the state of education with big bucks.

Sandy Kurtzig, CEO, Kenandy. Kurtzig, 65, is in her second stint as a tech industry entrepreneur. At the age of 23 she founded ASK Group in 1972, using $2,000 of her own savings. It eventually became a $450-million-annual-revenue public company. ASK developed Manman, a manufacturing resource planning suite that was among the precursors of today's ERP packages. Kurtzig resigned from ASK back in 1985, but in 2010 she came out of retirement to found Kenandy, among the pioneers in bringing ERP into the cloud. Kenandy is built on the Force.com platform, and Salesforce Ventures is among the private company's investors, along with Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Hasso Plattner, Chairman, SAP. Chairman of SAP since 2003, Plattner, 70, co-founded the company in 1972. He has been nearly as active and involved in SAP decision-making as chairman as we expect Ellison to be as executive chairman of Oracle. Over the last decade, Plattner created and advanced the SAP Hana in-memory database, and he made it the centerpiece of SAP's technology strategy, with help from his long-time protégé, Vishal Sikka, who resigned from SAP's Executive Board in May. Plattner doesn't join earnings conference calls, as Ellison said last week he plans to continue to do, but employees and customers alike know Plattner holds sway over product and strategy decisions.

Tech industry leaders, from left, Sandy Kurtzig, Hasso Plattner, Mark Templeton, and Joseph Tucci.
Tech industry leaders, from left, Sandy Kurtzig, Hasso Plattner, Mark Templeton, and Joseph Tucci.

Mark Templeton, CEO, Citrix. At 61, Templeton is the youngest of these tech lions, but he has shaped Citrix for close to two decades. He joined Citrix in 1995 as vice president of marketing, and he rose to president in 1998 and chief executive officer in 2001. Along the way Citrix has grown from a $15-million-annual-revenue company to a $3 billion global powerhouse. Templeton continues to spearhead acquisitions and is leading the company's efforts to develop the software-defined network.

Joseph Tucci, Chairman, President, and CEO, EMC. Tucci, 66, joined EMC as COO in 2000 after a six-year stint as chairman and CEO of Wang Laboratories. He was elevated to president and CEO of EMC in 2001 and added the chairman role in 2006. Tucci has reduced EMC's dependence on low-margin hardware with diversification into software, spinning out VMWare and Pivotal along the way. EMC is under increasing pressure to acquire big (say, Dell) or be acquired (by, say, Cisco, HP, or Oracle). Increasing that pressure is the fact that Tucci has indicated he will step down by early next year and has yet to announce a successor.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio
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