Oracle’s brash and colourful founder Larry Ellison announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as CEO, a position he held since he launched the company in 1977.
Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, his deputies, will take over as co-CEOs. Ellison will hang around — as executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer.
“The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future,” Ellison said in a statement.
His departure is being seen as the passing of a generation of technology pioneers — Bill Hewitt and Dave Packard, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
The new arrangement at Oracle was not received kindly by the market, where company stocks dipped in after-hour trading, and experts saw the makings of trouble.
Ellison founded Oracle in 1977 to challenge International Business Machines’ (IBM) dominance of corporate databases. Among his earliest clients was the American spy agency, CIA.
Over the next 37 years, Ellison turned Oracle into the world’s largest database-software company and among the biggest providers of business programmes.
Along the way, he picked up a reputation for brash and brusque ways and friends such as Steve Jobs, who were often described to be as difficult as him.
He shared more than a few personality traits with Jobs — they were both given up for adoption by their biological mothers, and were brought up by adoptive parents.
And they both hated Microsoft.
Also, the Oracle founder is a very wealthy man — ranked fifth richest person in the world — and owns many lavish homes and an Island in Hawaii.