Maffei Leaves Oracle for Parts Unknown

He's the second CFO to leave the company this year; Oracle doesn't plan to search for another.
Stephen TaubNovember 4, 2005

Co-president and chief financial officer Greg Maffei is leaving Oracle Corp. a little more than four months after joining the software company, culminating a bizarre day in which a Goldman Sachs report speculated about the executive’s whereabouts.

“Greg has told us he’s looking at a terrific professional opportunity,” said chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison in a statement. “We wish him well.”

“My resignation from Oracle is not a reflection on the company, its executives or employees,” Maffei said in a statement. “I wish Oracle and my former co-workers the very best.” He told The Wall Street Journal that his departure “is not about what’s right or wrong with Oracle, but about what this other opportunity offers,” but he declined to elaborate.

Co-president Safra Catz will take on the CFO duties, and Maffei will remain with Oracle until November 15 to help “with a smooth transition,” the company said. An Oracle spokesman told the Journal that the company is not launching a search for a new finance chief.

Maffei is the second CFO to leave Oracle this year. Harry You quit in March after just eight months on the job to take the CEO spot at consultancy BearingPoint Inc.

According to the Journal, Maffei has at times clashed with Catz, who oversees M&A activity at Oracle and is said to have a strong relationship with Ellison. (CFO profiled Maffei’s own deal-making talents in a 1999 cover story, “Smooth Operator.”) Bloomberg reported that Maffei “jarred Catz” with his efforts to create a fiefdom, citing people familiar with the matter. “I’ve heard about personality issues with him and the other executives,” Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, told the wire service. “Big investors were not fond of him.”

Maffei, however, denied his departure was related to personality clashes. “This is not about do I love Safra, do I love Charles, do they love me,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s more about what I want to do.”

Earlier in the day, Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund created a minor stir on Wall Street when he raised concerns that Maffei had been away for more than two weeks, leading to the cancellation of both an analyst meeting and an appearance at a Goldman Sachs conference. “Management has not directly commented on the status of Mr. Maffei, other than to say there have been executive ‘scheduling conflicts’ and ‘family issues,’” wrote Sherlund. “We have grown increasingly convinced that there are legitimate questions regarding Mr. Maffei’s status at the company.”