I’m on “vacation”, so I don’t know how timely I’ll be in getting back to reporters with quotes on Mark Hurd’s new job at Oracle. I put “vacation” in quotes because my father has been in a coma for over a week back in Ohio; I’m getting stonewalled for information about his and especially about my senile mother’s condition (while there’s a support structure making sure nothing too ridiculous happens, the whole thing has been even harder to block out for a while than if a full set of medical ethics were being used); Linda arrived here with an injury that has largely wrecked the vacation for her (if we had confidence in the local doctors we’d be seeing them for sure, and may yet see them anyway); and the mix of lesser factors is otherwise normal — great place, I took way too much work with me and had clients demanding more, connectivity was deplorable and is still unreliable (this post has been spread out over several hours by yet another connectivity outage), and weather has been a pleasant surprise to date (but clearly I’m benefiting from it a lot less than usual).
My thoughts on Mark Hurd (who I’ve never met) joining Oracle include:
- Mark Hurd is one of the least successful leaders in the modern history of the DBMS industry.
- Mark Hurd presided over Teradata while Teradata allowed a bunch of smaller competitors to grow up.
- Mark Hurd was said to be the prime mover behind HP Neoview, which has been an epic failure.
- Mark Hurd was in charge of HP when HP lost the Exadata business to Sun, and it’s not clear that the loss was just because Oracle bought Sun.
- Mark Hurd seems to have done poorly running services businesses at HP as well, at least in terms of their reputations.
- None of this means that Mark Hurd can’t do a good job on the volume-hardware side of Oracle. Nor does it seem likely that Hurd would get the power to gut Oracle’s R&D the way he is reputed to have gutted HP’s. And by the way, the investment in the HP Neoview fiasco shows that Hurd didn’t COMPLETELY gut R&D at HP either.
- The Mark Hurd hire is a signal that Oracle is very serious about hardware/software integration. Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, Hurd can surely talk the hardware/software integration game. And one can reasonably spin Hurd’s HP Neoview failure as a high-desire, low-odds attempt to get into the database software/hardware stack business.
- The time to assess whether Oracle will continue with the hardware/software integration emphasis will be when Mark Hurd leaves. Just as Ray Lane’s departure coincided with a reversal of the software/services integration strategy he so successfully championed, Hurd’s eventual departure could signal a backing off from emphasizing a software/hardware stack.
- Mark Hurd’s sexual harassment problems sound similar to Al Gore’s:
- He got services of the sort that are often a euphemism (massage in Gore’s case, escort in Hurd’s).
- The provider(s) just wanted to provide the real thing, not the euphemistic part as well.
- Unpleasantness ensued.