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Oracle hire fuels acquisition talk

Are there more acquisitions in Oracle's future? Analyst Noel Yuhanna sounds off on Oracle's hire of a former Microsoft honcho.

Oracle's hire of former Microsoft finance officer Greg Maffei has some speculating that Oracle is on the verge of re-energizing its strategy toward Microsoft.

...hiring Greg Maffei is likely to energize [Oracle's] strategy and give them another chance to battle it out with Microsoft
Noel Yuhanna,
senior analystForrester Research

"With Oracle continuing to lose [database management systems] market share on Windows Platform, hiring Greg Maffei is likely to energize their strategy and give them another chance to battle it out with Microsoft," said Noel Yuhanna, senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

However, Yuhanna cautioned that the media should not jump on the news as an indicator that Oracle was about to embark on a period of extreme acquisitions.

"I do not think that it's a signal for more acquisitions, but it's more about putting [Oracle's] focus back in the growing [Database Management System] Windows market."

Maffei's most recent post was as chairman and CEO of broadband provider 360networks Corporation. He was previously employed at Microsoft as the CFO before he left that post in 1999.

While he was CFO at Redmond, Maffei oversaw its $35 billion cash and strategic investment portfolio. During his CFO tenure, the company's market cap increased four-fold to nearly $600 billion.

From 1999 to February 2002, Mr. Maffei also served as Chairman of Expedia, Inc. the online travel service.

As stated on the Oracle Web site, Maffei will join two other executives, Charles Phillips and Safra Catz, whom also hold the title president, all serving below chairman and CEO Larry Ellison. In addition to his CFO's job, Maffei will oversee Oracle's human resources, legal, manufacturing and distribution, and global real estate departments.

In a statement from Ellison, the boisterous chairman described Maffei as an "exceptional executive with a wealth of experience in the software and telecommunications industries."

With Oracle still riding the high from a victory in the bidding war with rival SAP over the small retail software vendor Retek earlier this year, Ellison has promised additional acquisitions.

Additionally, Maffei has an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar, and an AB degree from Dartmouth College. He also serves as a director of Electronic Arts Inc. and Starbucks Corporation.

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