But Kurian just sent a curious email to the company’s employees that announced he is taking an extended leave of absence, and uses language normally reserved for good-bye messages. The email was first reported by CNBC’s Jordan Novet.
Kurian has been with Oracle since 1996. He is the president who heads engineering and product development and reports to executive chairman Larry Ellison. It was Kurian that Ellison tasked with turning Oracle into a major player in the cloud-computing market.
In the email where he announced his leave, he did not say when he expected to return and told the company.
“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,” the email says.
And he signed off by including his personal contact info.
An Oracle’s spokesperson describes the situation like this: “He’s taking some time off. We expect him to return soon.”
Kurian won founder and former CEO Larry’ Ellison’s respect in a couple of ways, people who have worked with him have told Business Insider. He’s hardworking, and he’s challenged Ellison from time to time and been right. With that respect has come power at the company. He is, for instance, one of Oracle’s named officers, meaning he’s so high up and well paid that Oracle discloses his salary (it was $35.7 million in total compensation in the the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2017).
Internal units that report to him comprise 35,000 people in 32 countries, his LinkedIn profile says. Or about a quarter of the company.
Oracle recently stopped disclosing its standalone cloud revenue
It’s true that top Oracle people have been known to take extended leaves and return. We heard of one executive who took six months off to sail around the world with his family, staying on call during that time.
It is also possible that after 20 years, Kurian is simply ready for a rest. Or that he’s ready to pursue a CEO role (of which he must have many offers) outside of Oracle.
But there are also some signs that Oracle’s cloud business is not as all-that as the company wants it to be, even though plenty of Oracle’s customers use some of its cloud services, particularly the cloud versions of its popular human resources and accounting software.
As Business Insider previously reported, there were some people among Oracle’s massive salesforce using tricks to make cloud sales, even to customers who weren’t interested and wouldn’t ultimately use the cloud.
In June, instead of continuing to tout and shout about its enormous cloud growth, Oracle stopped reporting cloud revenue separately, effectively hiding it from view. Oracle attributed the change to adopting new accounting standards.
And, because Oracle did not hit certain goals related to its cloud computing business, none of its top four executives – including Kurian – earned an allotted chunk of the massive block of stock options they were granted last year, Oracle said.
They are still eligible to get those options if they hit the upcoming targets, and they all still got paid millions in stock compensation from having hit targets tied to previous grants.
In addition to his work at Oracle, Kurian is the twin brother of George Kurian, CEO of enterprise storage company NetApp. George actually began at Oracle first, brought his brother in and then left to pursue other jobs. Thomas stayed on and, as his brother once told us, “He’s had a spectacular run there.”
Here is the full version of Thomas Kurian’s email he sent to the company, obtained by Business Insider:
“By now many of you may have heard that I have decided to take extended time off from Oracle. 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. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have worked with me and our development team to help transform our market position as we transition from an on-premise product company to a Cloud-based Services organization. None of this would have been possible without your courage, your enthusiasm, and your partnership with us in development – we built so many different marketing events together that changed how customers perceived our technology and for that I am truly grateful.
In expressing my gratitude, let me close with a few words. Technology gives us the possibility to re-imagine what customers can do with software every day and it gives us the chance to re-imagine what a company can be. A few years ago, people would not have thought that people would be able to speak to an ERP Application using a Digital Assistant or to build an autonomous Database. Technology provides each of us to create a new future for everyone in the world every day. Never fail to believe that each of you have a role in helping our world to re-imagine its future.
I have always been proud and inspired by the passion and commitment that you showed every day when you came to work determined to help our customers understand how they can transform their organizations and people’s lives using technology. 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. If you ever need to reach me and if there is anything I can do to help you, please do so.
Thank you and best wishes