One of the most powerful men at Oracle, Thomas Kurian, has been tasked with a big job.
As the president who heads engineering and product development reporting to executive chairman Larry Ellison, he needs to to turn Oracle into a major player in the cloud computing market pronto.
The always competitive Ellison has set a big, hairy goal for Oracle: He wants the company to race ahead of longtime rival Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce and Ellison’s one-time protege, and hit $10 billion in cloud revenue before Salesforce does.
Salesforce is on track to do $8.3 billion in revenue in its current 2016 fiscal year, it says, and analysts expect it to hit $10 billion next year.
Oracle will need to more than triple revenue in a matter of months to do that. In its last fiscal year, announced in June, it hit total loud revenues of just under $3 billion.
So there’s no time to waste. Kurian and team are shopping for cloud companies to boost revenue, including its $9 billion purchase of NetSuite announced last week, a company mostly owned by Ellison.
And Kurian is spending $2 billion a year building data centres for Oracle and a cloud network to be able to grow its own homegrown cloud business fast, Kurian told the New York Times.
Respect and profanity
Kurian, who has been at Oracle for 20 years, has won Ellison’s respect in a couple of ways, people who have worked with him have told Business Insider. He’s hard working. And he’s challenged Ellison from time to time and been right.
With that respect has come power at the company. The Times reports that as a manager, Kurian is known to be both soft-spoken and tough.
For instance, he’s demanding in meetings, wanting to people to cut to the chase on their slides to get to the part where they discuss problems. If there are no problems, he’s known to cancel the meeting. There are no self-congratulatory, all-is-well meetings with him.
And if there are too many problems? Watch out: He’s known for his profanity-laden dress-downs.
That kind of management style in meetings is actually not unusual in the tech world. Young Bill Gates was so known for his profanity back in the day, that one person in his entourage was assigned the task of counting f-bombs and other swear words to help gauge just how upset Gates was, legend has it.
Red Hat’s CEO and his direct reports are also known to cuss at each other when they disagree.
Many projects in the open source software development community also have reputations for the insults people lob at each other, as people who are passionate and serious about their work duke it out before arriving at some consensus.
Profanity may or may not help Oracle pole vault Salesforce to $10 billion in cloud sales. But if Kurian is successful, some say he could one day become CEO of Oracle.
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