Meet the 5 execs that Larry Ellison and insiders say are on the short list to one day be the CEO of Oracle (ORCL)


Larry Ellison

  • When Oracle CEO Mark Hurd went on medical leave last month, there was speculation that Safra Catz would become the tech giant’s solo CEO.
  • But Oracle founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison has said the company plans to keep its dual CEO structure.
  • He also said he planned to recommend five internal candidates to the Oracle board.
  • Here are five Oracle execs who could one day become Catz’s co-CEO, according to Ellison and company insiders.
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Oracle CEO Mark Hurd went on medical leave last month, prompting speculation that Safra Catz, with whom he shared the post, will likely become the tech giant’s solo CEO.

But Oracle founder Larry Ellison has indicated that the Silicon Valley company plans to keep its dual CEO structure — even though some people find it “weird.”

“A lot of people have said, ‘God, you guys are weird. Two CEOs? That’s ridiculous. That’s bad governance,'”  Ellison told analysts at the company’s OpenWorld event in San Francisco last month. 

“I believe in a dual CEO structure. The normal case [at Oracle] would be dual CEO here for obvious reasons. That it’s good to have capacity and good to have specialization. And then, God forbid, if something untoward should happen, you have capacity, you are not incapacitated.”

In fact, Oracle’s archrival, SAP, appeared to following Ellison’s lead. SAP just announced this week that it was shifting to its own dual CEO structure.  The German software giant said its longtime CEO Bill McDermott was stepping down and has been replaced by Jennifer Morgan, who had led SAP’s cloud business, and Christian Klein, who had served as SAP’s chief operating officer.

It would seem Ellison meant what he said about the dual CEO structure. At the meeting with analysts, Ellison said he was planning to give the Oracle board give five potential internal candidates in the event Hurd is unable to return.

Here are five Oracle executives — including two that Ellison himself mentioned at the meeting with analysts, as well as three that experts suggest might make the shortlist — who could one day serve as the company’s chief executive.

Steve Miranda leads Oracle’s cloud-applications development

Steve Miranda was one of two executives Oracle founder Larry Ellison mentioned as a possible CEO candidate at a meeting with analysts in September. Analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research also thinks he’s the strongest candidate to replace Mark Hurd.

Miranda, who has been with Oracle since 1992, reports to Ellison. As executive vice president of the company’s applications product development, Miranda, who has been with the company since 1992, leads Oracle’s cloud-software business. This covers applications used for major business operations, like supply-chain management, human resources, and enterprise performance management.

Don Johnson leads Oracle’s cloud infrastructure business

Don Johnson is vice president of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure product development, which means he is playing a critical role in the company’s strategy. He was another Oracle executive Ellison mentioned as a possible candidate in the meeting with analysts in September.

Building out the Oracle cloud infrastructure business is a key component of the tech giant’s bid to play a bigger role in the cloud, where it has been outpaced by Amazon, Microsoft and Google. That’s included spearheading a surprising new partnership to make the Oracle Cloud compatible with the Windows Azure platform.

Miranda, who reports to Larry Ellison, actually worked for Amazon Web Services for a decade before joining Oracle in 2014.

Edward Screven is Oracle’s chief corporate architect

Edward Screven, who serves as chief corporate architect, is an Oracle veteran who is seen as one of the company’s leading technologists. Business Insider’s Julie Bort recently reported that insiders see him as a potential successor to the CEO role at Oracle.

That’s definitely an important role today as Oracle faces its biggest challenge, building a stronger presence in the cloud which is now dominated by Amazon, Microsoft and Google. 

“We definitely started after Amazon,” he told Business Insider in an interview in May. “The bad news is they have market share. The good news is we get to learn a lot.” 

But Screven said Oracle had one advantage that Amazon doesn’t have: its customer base. 

“We have hundreds of thousands of customers that store their most important data in Oracle databases,” Screven said. “We could do a far better job for them than any other cloud provider. We are doing a far better job for them.”

But some observers don’t see Screven in a CEO role. 

“Ed’s happy with his role,” analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research told Business Insider. “He’s the eventual technology heir to the company and Larry’s ‘backup.'”

David Donatelli leads Oracle’s cloud sales and marketing

Dave Donatelli is executive vice president for worldwide sales and marketing strategy for Oracle Cloud. He is a veteran of the enterprise tech industry, having served in senior posts at EMC and Hewlett-Packard. He’s one more insider pick for next CEO,as Business Insider’s Julie Bort reported.

While Oracle has lagged other players in the cloud, Donatelli has stressed the company’s technological advantage over Amazon.

“To be successful in the cloud, you have to possess a considerable product offering and R&D,” he said in a 2017 Forbes interview. “We have the most complete cloud, spanning Data-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Some vendors have some parts of that offering, but not the whole stack that Oracle has.”

Analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research thinks Donatelli, who reports to Mark Hurd, is a potential CEO candidate, but he “may not have the broad support across the tech teams.”

Loïc Le Guisquet is Oracle’s chairman for Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Japan

Loïc Le Guisquet has been with the tech giant since 1989, and a favorite of insiders for the Oracle CEO role, as Business Insider’s Julie Bort previously reported.

He is chairman of Oracle for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific and Japan. These regions recently posted strong results for the company, which lead insiders to believe Le Guisquet could be a contender of the CEO post.

But analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research said that being based overseas may be a disadvantage when it comes to contention for the top role. “Loïc is good but you have to be in HQ to have the job,” he told Business Insider.

Safra Catz may remain as the only CEO after all

Not everyone is convinced Ellison and Oracle will name a new CEO to work with Safra Catz, despite the company’s stated preference for two chief execs. 

“I am going to take the other side of this and say that Larry will not be naming a new co-CEO,” IDC President Crawford Del Prete told Business Insider.  “I think Mark brings a very unique value to Oracle (and that when he was brought in, it was under a unique set of circumstances) and in the end he and the board will determine that is not in the best interest of the company to name a person but rather go with a different structure.”