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Oracle’s Larry Ellison steps down as CEO

Larry Ellison at the America's Cup

It’s the end of an era in the computer industry as long time Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, one of the most truculent leaders of the information age, is stepping down as CEO of the company he founded back in 1977.

Former HP CEO Mark Hurd and Safra Catz will take over for Ellison as dual CEOs. Both have the title of president. Hurd was hired by Ellison shortly after he was dismissed by HP because of scandal involved a reality TV show starlet.

While the departure of Ellison as chief executive is big news it does not impact Oracle greatly as instead of Hurd and Catz reporting directly to Ellison they will report to the board of which he is chairman. Catz is in control of manufacturing and finance, while Hurd is responsible for services.

All the other direct reports go unchanged. Ellison said in a prepared statement: “The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future. Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine.

Ellison is the longest serving high tech CEO with 37 years under his belt. He steps down at age 70 and has had a stellar career. His only misstep was claiming that the personal computer was dead back in the mid-90s. He created a network computer that did not take off as a result of this strategy.

Ellison gained legendary status in Silicon Valley. He was considered to be one of the big three silicon valley CEOs along with Bill Gates of Microsoft and Apple’s Steve Jobs. Ellison battled both Gates and Jobs on many occasions and some of it was public. At one time during his career, Ellison was reportedly buying Apple for $500 million just by himself. This was during Apple’s down years in the 90s.

He outright proclaimed that Microsoft was the “anti-innovative” software vendor. Ellison would routinely say that Microsoft was a monopoly and should be broken up. Other comments Ellison made of Gates was that he blatantly copies other company’s software such as Netscape.

Ellison turned Oracle into a dominant database vendor with a market value of $182 billion. His personal net worth is roughly $48 billion; not bad for a university drop-out.

But being a software billionaire was not his only claim to fame. Recently, Ellison sailed his own America’s Cup team called Oracle Team USA to a championship. He also owns a Russian MiG-29 fighter jet.