Oracle Product Chief Thomas Kurian Resigns


Thomas Kurian, Oracle's president and product leader responsible for the software giant's cloud transformation strategy, will not return to the company, Oracle said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday.

The 22-year Oracle veteran informed his staff several weeks ago that he was taking "extended time-off", worrying partners who praised his experience and talent in driving Oracle products.

But Oracle now says that Kurian has decided to resign effective immediately to "to pursue other opportunities." The company said Kurian's job duties have been reassigned to other executives.

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Kurian's exit comes as Oracle's cloud business struggles with sluggish growth and is increasingly roiled by claims that it's misrepresenting sales figures by using unsustainable pressure sales tactics, including by a lawsuit recently filed by a pension fund investor.

After Kurian sent a letter notifying his staff of his departure, an Oracle spokesperson told CRN that "we expect him to return soon." Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd more recently expressed that same sentiment.

The high-profile exit comes a few weeks before OpenWorld— Oracle's flagship conference where Kurian typically delivers a major keynote unveiling new products.

One former Oracle employee who asked not to be named told CRN that most in the company expected Kurian not to come back.

"The fact that they didn't say why he left or what time frame he will be gone is very unusual," that person said, noting it's a big loss for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based technology giant.

"He's the brains behind the product strategy. It's not like they have someone else that can replace him. There just aren't that many Thomas Kurians sitting around," that person said.

The email Kurian sent his team before leaving weeks ago read: "I am writing to let you and your teams know what a privilege it has been to work with all of you these past several years."

It closes: "I am so very proud of all that we have accomplished together and so grateful for having had the opportunity to help you on that journey. I shall never forget you, and I wish each of you the very best for the future,"

That language didn't strike partners as indicative of someone confident he would return. And Oracle's lack of transparency on the matter left many worried there might be larger executive conflicts at play or internal problems in the cloud business.

Another Oracle employee who recently left the company told CRN that Kurian had been at odds with Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison over disagreements in Oracle's larger cloud strategy as well as how to address technical challenges resulting in migrating Oracle's ERP applications to its second-generation cloud infrastructure.

After 18 years at Oracle, Kurian became one of the company's most-visible executives when Ellison elevated him to president of product development at the start of 2015.

A few months earlier, Ellison had transitioned himself from CEO to CTO, promoting co-presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz to share the top job and leaving a void at the president rank.

Kurian had gained Ellison's favor by thriving in a position responsible for launching Oracle Fusion Applications that challenged his predecessors.

John Wookey left Oracle as senior vice president for application development in 2007 amid speculation of delays in launching Oracle Fusion Applications—a broad suite of next-generation ERP applications that culled recently acquired technologies from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel Systems.

Wookey was replaced by Chuck Rozwat, who assumed the position of executive vice president of product development, responsible for Oracle's entire software portfolio.

Kurian reported to Rozwat as director of Fusion Middleware before replacing him in 2009. Fusion Applications went to market in 2011.