SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Corp. has hired former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd to help lead the database software maker in a pivotal moment in Oracle’s 33-year history as it tries to muscle in on more of H-P’s turf.
Oracle and H-P are longtime partners, but Hurd’s appointment Monday as co-president of Oracle underscores the growing fissure between the Silicon Valley heavyweights and stems from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s belief that his friend Hurd was railroaded out of a job at H-P.
Oracle already had two presidents.
One of them — Charles Phillips, a former Marine and investment banker who was with Oracle for seven years — is resigning to make room for Hurd. The other — Safra Catz, Oracle’s former chief financial officer — is staying.
Ellison said that Phillips wanted to leave in December, but that Ellison asked him to stay through the integration of Sun Microsystems.
Phillips was in the news earlier this year when pictures of him snuggling with his former mistress appeared on billboards around the U.S. Ellison said Oracle will miss Phillips’ talent and leadership but that he respects Phillips’ decision to leave.
Oracle said in a statement that Hurd will also serve as a member of the board of directors. He will report to Ellison.
Ellison praised Hurd’s tenure at H-P and said no other executive had more relevant experience.
“Mark did a brilliant job at H-P and I expect he’ll do even better at Oracle,” Ellison said. “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark. Oracle’s future is engineering complete and integrated hardware and software systems for the enterprise.”
H-P and Oracle have worked together for 25 years to make sure their products are in sync. The relationship is straining because Oracle is now competing in one of H-P’s biggest businesses — selling the computer servers that power businesses’ back offices.
Hurd’s new job is evidence that Oracle plans to push harder into more areas where Oracle’s and H-P’s businesses overlap.
Don’t expect a breakup between H-P and Oracle over the friction, though, since their technologies are so intertwined.
The latest moves amount to little more than management maneuvering involving business celebrities, with Hurd and Ellison being two of the biggest names in technology, and Hurd’s ouster from H-P being one of the great dramas in Silicon Valley history.
In hiring Hurd, Oracle doesn’t necessarily get everything he knows. Part of Hurd’s severance package from H-P — which could top $40 million — includes a confidentiality agreement that restricts what he can tell a future employer about internal H-P dealings.