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Unconfirmed reports of layoffs at Oracle have been leaking all year long. In an earnings call Tuesday, analysts asked Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and President Mark Hurd directly about headcount.
Ellison and Hurd both said, unequivocally, that Oracle is hiring.
Hurd said that Oracle has hired more than 3,000 people over the past six quarters.
But then they explained that there is still some shifting going on—more salespeople, less support staff.
Neither would use the “L” word, though—as in “layoffs,” which is how some people within Oracle have described what’s been happening to Business Insider.
On Tuesday, Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard asked Ellison and Hurd what their plans were for hiring more salespeople. He wanted to know how quickly those salespeople would be up and running.
“There obviously were a lot of questions last quarter or so about changes of the sales force and sales headcount ramping,” Maynard said.
Last quarter, in June, Oracle parted ways with its top Americas sales chief, Keith Block. Block had been a controversial figure at Oracle. Employees blamed him for a dysfunctional sales team, particularly after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. He was also in the hot seat for having sent a bunch of instant messages and emails used in Oracle’s trial with HP in which he bashed Sun hardware.
On Tuesday, Hurd said that the salesforce was healthy and growing.
“We’re still hiring,” Hurd said. “As we specialize the salesforce it creates a need to hire more people. We’re hiring in verticals, we’re hiring in cloud, we’re hiring in every single region.”
But new hires haven’t raised expenses because Oracle has been “doing some things” to be “more efficient,” Hurd added.
Ellison chimed in, saying that Oracle has hired more salespeople and sales consultants while “downsizing some of the groups whose job was to help them.”
That shift—towards more salespeople and away from support groups—would continue, Ellison said, improving what he colorfully called the organisation’s “tooth-to-tail ratio.”
“We’re going to keep doing that for at least the next 18 months,” Ellison said. “We’re going to do it very conservatively. We’re going to add to the capacity without adding to expense.”