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Larry Ellison Resigns From Apple's Board, Cites Time Commitment

Larry Ellison Resigns From Apple's Board, Cites Time Commitment

by , 2:00 PM EDT, September 20th, 2002

[Update: The story below has been updated with information concerning Larry Ellison's yacht racing.]

In a surprise announcement, Apple said today that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has resigned from Apple's Board of Directors. Mr. Ellison is a close friend of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and was one of the first people that Mr. Jobs personally added to Apple's Board. The terse press release issued by Apple cites time commitment issues as being responsible for Mr. Ellison's resignation. That release:

Apple today announced that Lawrence J. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, is resigning from Apple's Board of Directors.

"I will continue to offer my advice to Steve and the executive management team at Apple, but my schedule does not currently allow me to attend enough of the formal board meetings to warrant a role as a director," said Ellison.

"Larry has served Apple shareholders well as a director during the past five years," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We're looking forward to benefiting from his counsel on an informal basis going forward."

One of Mr. Ellison's passions is yacht racing, and it is rumored that he is preparing for another run at America's Cup in 2003. From a Forbes' article:

"As anyone who owns a sailboat on San Francisco Bay can tell you, Ellison is spending a lot of time driving sailboats right now," says Soundview Technology analyst Mark Specker. "He doesn't want anything to come between him and the America's Cup."

Yacht racing is often considered a time-intensive sport. The same Forbes' article says that Larry Ellison attended fewer than 75% of Apple's board meetings in 2001, supporting his claim of not having enough time.

You can find more information on Mr. Ellison at Oracle's Web site. Apple's Web site offers more information on its Board of Directors. Mr. Ellison's information has been pulled from that page. Also of note, Apple's Board of Directors currently only includes 5 people:

Bill Campbell
Chairman and former CEO
Intuit Corp.

Millard Drexler
President and CEO
Gap Inc.

Steve Jobs
CEO, Apple
CEO, Pixar

Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D.
Chairman and CEO

Jerry York
President and CEO
Micro Warehouse

The Mac Observer Spin:

This truly is surprising to us. The friendship between Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison is famous, or infamous depending on who you ask, and Mr. Ellison has been a huge supporter of Mr. Jobs at Apple. Before the rumors that Disney/Sony/whomever would be buying Apple began circulating, Mr. Ellison almost did buy Apple, supposedly with the plan of installing his friend back at the helm. A boardroom stealth-coup from Mr. Jobs after Apple bought NeXT made that unnecessary, but Mr. Ellison has certainly maintained a high degree of interest in Apple for many, many years. With this in mind, one would think that missing a few board meetings would have been OK.

That said, Mr. Ellison has been struggling to keep his own company, Oracle, on track in the same tough tech market that is hurting Apple. Mr. Ellison is known to work long, hard hours, and it is not hard to understand how little time he might have for serving on another board.

Apple's Board was one of the first things that Steve Jobs dealt with after returning to Apple, and its current membership is a tad on the light side. It bears watching whether or not there will be additional action on this area.

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