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IT Confidential: Rome's Got Nothing On Redwood Shores

Oracle to be subject of HBO miniseries. Oracle is one tough place to work. The list of the database company's former execs reads like a Who's Who of Silicon Valley startups and investment firms.
Oracle to be subject of HBO miniseries. Oracle is one tough place to work. The list of the database company's former execs reads like a Who's Who of Silicon Valley startups and investment firms. When CFO Greg Maffei left two weeks ago after only four months on the job, he was Oracle's third departed CFO in 16 months. But last week, when Tod Nielsen, senior VP of marketing at Oracle, popped up as the new CEO of tools vendor Borland, it raised the eyebrows of Oracle watchers even further. Reportedly, Nielsen was a buddy of Maffei's, both of whom worked at Microsoft in prior lives. Maffei himself popped up at Liberty Media, where he will take over as CEO of the media and E-commerce company when chief John Malone steps aside next year. Though Maffei was a member of Oracle's triumvirate "office of the president," he was never really accepted as a member of the inner circle, which includes Chuck Phillips, who's driving the company's acquisition strategy, and Safra Catz, who took over the CFO role. And, of course, there's CEO Larry Ellison. Is anyone watching HBO's miniseries Rome? The story of the Caesars has got nothing on Oracle.

ONE TOUGH PLACE TO WORK, PART 2. Lost among the confidential corporate memos from Microsoft honchos Ray Ozzie and Bill Gates that surfaced mysteriously last week (mysterious in the sense that, given the memos were written a couple of weeks ago, it took that long for them to hit the media outlets) was an internal memo leaked from Oracle headquarters, apparently written by Ellison. Just as Gates' missive, describing a radical rethinking of corporate strategy, is destined to be referred to as the "Sea Change" memo, Ellison's will be known as the "T.O." memo-for obvious reasons. InformationWeek obtained a copy, from an anonymous but reliable source.

To: Safra Catz; From: Larry
Safra: I've been thinking about our CFO situation since Maffei left, and I believe I have a solution. I think we should hire the former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens for the position. Don't get your back up; it makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, Owens is available right now, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with his employer. Owens represents the Oracle mind-set in many ways: He's an independent thinker, an aggressive go-getter, a win-at-any-cost player. Software and football have a lot in common: You have to have a quarterback (me), a strong running back (you), a receiver to pass to (Phillips), and linemen to block and run interference (you know, those other people). As CFO, Owens could be a ringer, in more ways than one. I suppose he doesn't know much about corporate finance, but he can learn on the job. I have a feeling Owens and I have much in common, and I think we'll get along very well. Besides, if we hire him now, I can hold onto him until I finally get my NFL franchise. Do you want to contact him, or do you want me to? Thanks. Let me know what he says.

Hey, T.O. gets a bad rap. Just because you play a team sport doesn't mean you have to be a team player, does it? Like they say, there's no "I" in team, but there is a "me." So be a team player and send me an industry tip to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer