Oracle Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei will leave the software maker after clashing with top executives during a tenure that lasted...
Oracle Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei will leave the software maker after clashing with top executives during a tenure that lasted less than five months.
Maffei joined in June and will leave Nov. 15, Oracle, the world’s No. 3 software maker, said Thursday in a statement. Co-president Safra Catz will take over as Oracle’s fourth CFO in two years.
Hailed as an “exceptional executive” by Chief Executive Larry Ellison in June, Maffei, 45, jarred Catz with his efforts to create a fiefdom, according to people familiar with the matter. Maffei, a former Microsoft CFO, was absent from an analyst meeting in New York last week and canceled an appearance next week at a Goldman, Sachs event, sparking talk he might leave.
“I’ve heard about personality issues with him and the other executives,” said Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland. He rates the shares “outperform” and doesn’t own them. “Big investors were not fond of him.”
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Goldman, Sachs analyst Richard Sherlund in New York, the top-ranked software analyst by Institutional Investor, questioned Maffei’s status at the company in a note earlier Thursday.
At a Morgan Stanley event at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix Wednesday, co-President Charles Phillips made no mention of Maffei when discussing Oracle’s managers and noted that 10 people in the finance department have been at the company 10 years or longer.
Shares of Oracle dropped 28 cents to $12.20 Thursday. They have slumped 11 percent this year.
“Greg has told us he’s looking at a terrific professional opportunity,” Ellison, 61, said in the statement. “We wish him well.”
“My resignation from Oracle is not a reflection on the company, its executives or employees,” Maffei said in the statement.
Maffei became Oracle’s third co-president, along with former Morgan Stanley analyst Phillips and Catz, whom Ellison said in September he views as his successor. Maffei also ran the legal department, human resources, manufacturing and distribution, administration and real estate.
He had trouble adjusting to Oracle’s culture and alienated Catz, who joined Oracle in 1999, people familiar with the situation said.
“It is a team environment,” Phillips said at the Morgan Stanley event. “People who do well at Oracle are people who understand that and don’t mind exchanging ideas.”
Ellison hired Maffei in a move seen as bolstering Oracle’s ambitions for acquisitions. The company has spent more than $18 billion buying nine companies this year, and at the time he came onboard, analysts expected Maffei to play a role.
“It just seems flaky on Maffei’s part,” Barnicle said. “You do a job for four months and then you decide you want to move onto something else.”
Barnicle said he hadn’t heard any speculation in the industry about what “terrific opportunity” Maffei is considering.
“Being the CFO of one of the world’s biggest software companies seems like a terrific opportunity to me,” he said.
When at Microsoft, Maffei set up its mergers group and led more than $9 billion in investments in cable, telephone and Internet companies including $5 billion in AT&T, $1 billion in cable provider Comcast and the $425 million purchase of WebTV. Microsoft wrote down many of his holdings as the stock prices plummeted.
Maffei’s desire to move up at Microsoft created friction with executives including then-President Steve Ballmer, Jean-Francois Heitz, who was Microsoft’s treasurer under Maffei, said in a June interview. Maffei left Microsoft for 360networks in 1999.
In a June interview, Maffei said he planned to work with top Oracle executives to set strategy. He said he has known Phillips for 10 years, Catz for five and has spoken to Ellison “off and on” for two years.
Maffei, who is president of the board of trustees for the Seattle Public Library, graduated in 1986 from Harvard Business School in the top 5 percent of his class. He is also on the board of directors of coffee retailer Starbucks and at video-game maker Electronic Arts.