Oracle chief financial officer Jeff Epstein, who’s only been on the job since September 2008, resigned suddenly Monday afternoon. Fortunately for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the right person to take over is already working for Oracle.
The software giant quickly named Safra Catz, who was CFO before Epstein, as the new permanent CFO. Catz is also a co-president at Oracle, serving alongside fellow co-president Mark Hurd. Hmm. Where have I heard that name before?
Oracle didn’t give a reason for Epstein’s departure. But considering all the executives that have come and gone under Ellison in the past 15 years or so — paging Gary Bloom and Ray Lane and Craig Conway and Marc Benioff and Tom Siebel and Harry You and Greg Maffei and billboard sensation (not in a good way) Chuck Phillips — it should come as no surprise that Epstein was leaving.
Strangely, Oracle’s stock fell more than 1% after hours on the Epstein news. But investors should have no reason to worry since the transition to a “new” CFO as is smooth as you can get.
It’s nothing short of miraculous that Catz has not just lasted this long (she joined Oracle in 1999) but has remained Ellison’s trusted consigliere all this time.
"Safra already has the long-standing confidence of our employees, our Board and our shareholders," said Ellison in a statement. "There is no more logical choice for CFO."
Much was made about how Hurd could eventually take over for Ellison after Hurd was hired by Oracle last year following his ignominious exit as the head ink cartridge at HP in the wake of a sex/expense report scandal. And while Hurd does have CEO experience as a notch in his belt (keep your mind out of the gutter!) I wouldn’t completely rule out the idea of Catz one day taking over Ellison’s baby.
Of course, Ellison probably may never leave the job until he actually shuffles off this mortal coil. And who knows? Maybe Catz is content being the real power behind the scenes. Co-president and CFO? That’s about as much responsibility you can get short of being CEO.
If nothing else, Catz deserves a medal for being able to put up with the enigmatic Ellison for more than a decade. Of course, she could buy her own medal or two. After all, her $36.4 million compensation package last year is worth more than 24,000 ounces in gold at current prices. — Paul