Larry Ellison, the billionaire tech pioneer who became notorious outside of tech circles for cheating his way to a 2013 America’s Cup championship, announced today that he is stepping down from Oracle, the company he founded. Ellison will turn over day-to-day leadership of Oracle to president Mark Hurd and CFO Safra Katz, who will become co-CEOs.
With Ellison stepping out of the top role, America will lose perhaps its most unabashed CEO — a guy who embraced his magnate status to the extent of hiring a person to chase after his yacht on a jet ski to collect stray basketballs, buying 98 percent of a Hawaiian island, and suing an airport that wouldn’t let him land his private jet there.
Ellison’s departure comes at an uncertain time for Oracle. As Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance puts it:
Ellison leaves Oracle at a time when the company is in good financial health and benefitting from a resurgent technology boom. There are huge questions about the company’s future, though. Oracle has been late delivering a slew of its most ambitious recent products. Its database software is being used less and less by new technology companies that have moved toward more flexible types of applications. And its model of having a huge sales force looks antiquated at a time when people are buying infrastructure software via the Web with their credit cards.
But luckily for us, Ellison is sticking around in some capacity. According to Re/code, he’ll remain co-chairman of Oracle’s board and its chief technology officer. Granted, he’s been checked out of the corner office for a while. (Witness his decision to skip his own keynote address at an Oracle conference for a fancy boat race.) And now, with more time at his disposal, he’ll be able to do all the yacht-watching he wants.