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商业 - 科技

埃里森卸任甲骨文CEO——为什么是现在?

Adam Lashinsky 2014年09月22日

甲骨文联合创始人拉里•埃里森卸任CEO,公司权杖交由两名副手联合执掌。这位70岁的传奇CEO准备退休了吗?还是另有隐情?

    上周四,甲骨文(Oracle)突然发布公告称该公司的联合创始人拉里•埃里森即将卸任CEO。但在这起事件中最令人吃惊的是,它对甲骨文的影响其实微乎其微。

    上个月刚满70岁的拉里•埃里森于上周四表示,他将继续担任甲骨文的执行主席和首席技术官,负责公司的软件和硬件工程。当年比尔•盖茨卸任CEO时,也是继续担任了微软(Microsoft)的首席软件架构师,由此可见埃里森辞职对甲骨文的影响相对较小。甲骨文公司在周四的新闻发布会中指出,工程部门已经开始向埃里森报告工作了。

    甲骨文的两位新CEO也不会为公司带来太大变化。

    萨弗拉•卡茨多年来一直是给埃里森“主内”的人,负责公司的财务、法务和生产等核心事务。她也是埃里森的一只“铁拳”,确保他的意愿能在公司内部顺利推行。(我2009年写过对卡茨的一篇报道,称她为“执行者”。)就任CEO后,卡茨将继续负责同样的职能,包括甲骨文那架庞大的收购机器。

    至于马克•赫德,他会继续替甲骨文“主外”,即负责销售、服务以及甲骨文的“垂直行业全球业务单位”,这是对甲骨文营销机器的一种委婉的称呼。早在赫德担任惠普CEO时,我就说过,赫德是一个天生的销售经理。在性丑闻事件爆出后,赫德从惠普狼狈地离职,而就在他受千夫所指的关头,埃里森大胆地向这个亦敌亦友的公司的备受瞩目的高管抛去了橄榄枝。

    关于卡茨与赫德担任甲骨文的联合CEO,这里还有一个有趣的故事:赫德当年加盟甲骨文时,没人相信这两人能相处得来。卡茨多年来一直为埃里森担任运筹帷幄的角色,大家都认为她会有意回避赫德。而赫德为人精明,擅于算计,对权力和金钱胃口极大,人们都认为他不会对卡茨有多少耐心。

    但是从很多方面看来,哪怕是在今天甲骨文发出声明之前,都可以看出人们的这些成见完全错了。卡茨与赫德都不是技术背景出身,都懂财务,都拿着高薪,不过这两人很快找到了各自的位置,然后在自己的势力范围内雷厉风行地统治起来。在甲骨文的员工队伍里,卡茨与赫德基本上同样不受欢迎。但是他俩都坚持做好自己的本职工作,必要时卡茨会与银行家和内部高管打交道,而与顾客唇枪舌剑的任务则交给了赫德。

    那么埃里森为什么要走出卸任这一步呢?

    我认为,由于埃里森有着多种多样的兴趣爱好——比如航海、网球、房地产……他可能终于意识到这些活动有多分心,于是决定交出CEO的权杖。这个假设虽然合理,但还不能完全自圆其说。让拉里•埃里森分心的事情很多,这早已不是什么新闻了。

    另一个更接近事实的解释是,埃里森(可能还包括甲骨文的董事会)终于认识到,甲骨文的业务已经循规蹈矩、按部就班得太久了——至少从外表看起来是这样的。比如云计算作为一种销售软件的全新模式,可以让企业用户从远程计算机上按需购买,从而不必再购置全套昂贵的软件。但甲骨文进军云计算非常之晚。瑞银(UBS)分析师布兰特•希尔指出:“有时候,甲骨文错过的东西,要比他们正在研究的东西还要重要。在大方向上,有些事是拉里•埃里森必须要从事的,但实际给人的感觉是,他并没有拿出足够的精力参与进去。”

    不过奇妙的是,当拉里•埃里森想做一件事时,他总是能不折不扣地做成。现在他已经把公司的钥匙交到了两名他精心挑选的副手手里,只不过尚未彻底交权。(财富中文网)

    译者:朴成奎

    The most shocking thing about Thursday’s bombshell announcement that Larry Ellison is stepping down as CEO of Oracle is how little will change.

    Ellison, who turned 70 last month, said Thursday he’ll become executive chairman of the software company he co-founded decades ago and that he would become chief technology officer with responsibility for software and hardware engineering. The move, resonant of Bill Gates having become chief software architect of Microsoft when he resigned as CEO, changes relatively little about how Oracle runs. As Oracle noted in its news release, engineering already reports to Ellison.

    Not much changes for Oracle’s new CEOs either.

    SafraCatz has been Ellison’s Ms. Inside for years, with responsibility for finance, legal and manufacturing. She has long been Ellison’s iron fist, ensuring that his will was done within the walls of the company. (My 2009 profile of Catz called her “The Enforcer.”) As CEO, Catz will continue to oversee the same functions, including Oracle’s prodigious acquisitions engine.

    As for Mark Hurd, he will carry on as Oracle’s Mr. Outside, running sales, service and Oracle’s “vertical industry global business units,” which is a fancy way of referring to the company’s marketing machine. Hurd is a born sales manager, as I detailed during his earlier, halcyon days as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. (Read “Mark Hurd’s moment,” written a few months before I profiled Catz.) He came to Oracle following an ignominious departure from HP, with Ellison boldly hiring a high-profile executive from a combination partner-competitor in the middle of Hurd’s very public spat with his former board of directors.

    The interesting thing about Catz and Hurd sharing duties as CEO is that when Hurd joined Oracle no one believed the two would get along. Catz, the longtime consigliere to the billionaire boss she clearly revered, was expected to shun Hurd. Hurd, a shrewd and canny operator with an appetite for power and money, was expected to have little patience for Catz.

    By many accounts, even before Thursday’s announcements, those expectations were completely wrong. Catz and Hurd—neither technologists, both financially savvy, both extremely well compensated—appear to have quickly carved up their respective turfs and then run them ruthlessly. Catz and Hurd are deeply and equally unpopular with the troops at Oracle. But they are said to stick to their knitting, with Catz mingling when necessary with bankers and internal executives, grateful to leave conversations with customers to Hurd.

    So why make this move at all?

    The assumption is that Ellison finally decided that given all his various interests—sailing, tennis, real estate, sailing—he might as well acknowledge his distractions and give up the CEO job. It’s a fair assumption but still a head scratcher. Larry Ellison’s distractions are hardly news-alert worthy.

    An explanation that cuts closer to the truth is Ellison’s recognition—and perhaps Oracle’s board’s as well—that Oracle had just blown it for too long to continue business as usual, at least for appearances sake. Oracle has been egregiously late to embrace cloud computing, an entirely different business model for selling software that lets corporate customers use only what they need from remote computers rather than housing expensive software on their own premises. “Oracle has been missing more than they were making for some time,” says Brent Thill, a research analyst for UBS who has been following Oracle for about as long as anyone on Wall Street. “Directionally, there may be some things Larry has to be involved in. But there’s a perception he hasn’t been as engaged.”

    The wondrous thing about Larry Ellison is that he’s always done exactly what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. Now he’s turning over the keys to his prized company to two handpicked deputies. Just not completely.

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