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Former Oracle executive to lead smaller Atlanta software firm

JOINED ORACLE IN 2003 Despite his successes, Charles E. Phillips did not appear to be in line to take over as CEO at Oracle anytime soon. JOINED ORACLE IN 2003
Despite his successes, Charles E. Phillips did not appear to be in line to take over as CEO at Oracle anytime soon.
By Ashlee Vance
New York Times / October 26, 2010

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Charles E. Phillips Jr., a former copresident of Oracle, has downsized.

Yesterday, Phillips took over as chief executive of Infor, a little-known business software maker based in Atlanta. The new role comes about seven weeks after Phillips resigned as a director and copresident at Oracle, one of the largest database and business software companies.

The presence of Phillips at Infor could draw more attention to the company, which sells close to $2 billion a year of software, primarily to midsize businesses.

“This is a rare opportunity to be the chief executive of an applications company with real scale,’’ Phillips said. “I am thrilled to be doing this.’’

Phillips stepped down from Oracle last month, and Mark V. Hurd, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co., was named his successor. The announcement came as a surprise. Phillips had driven Oracle’s voracious acquisition machine; the company bought more than 60 companies in the past five years alone. In addition, Phillips was credited with applying a deft touch to handling customers’ problems.

Despite his successes, Phillips did not appear to be in line to take over as chief executive at Oracle anytime soon. Lawrence J. Ellison, Oracle’s cofounder and only chief executive, has made no mention of succession or retirement plans. Over the years, many top Oracle executives have left the company to get out from under Ellison’s shadow.

“I have spoken to Larry,’’ Phillips said. “He is quite proud to produce another CEO in the industry.’’

Founded in 2002, Infor started out producing business software for manufacturing and financial services companies. It has since built a wide product portfolio through 70 acquisitions of its own. It has more than 8,000 employees and focuses on midsize customers often neglected by the likes of Oracle, SAP, and IBM.

“A lot of our competitors talk about going after the midmarket, some with varying degrees of success,’’ said Jim Schaper, Infor’s former chief executive, who will stay on as chairman. “We were actually built to serve the midmarket.’’

The company has made preparations to allow for a public stock offering, but the executives declined to say whether Infor would seek one in the near future.

Phillips went to high school in Atlanta and has family in the area, which made the job particularly attractive, he said. He joined Oracle in 2003 after working as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley.