After weeks of saying that Oracle's longtime manager Thomas Kurian had taken a well-deserved break and was "expected", Oracle announced Friday that Kurian has resigned.
We understand that Oracle last week T.K. Anand did many of the duties of Kurian and told the staff at the time that his promotion was temporary until Kurian returned. Oracle declined to comment on Anand's ongoing role in the firm, so it's not clear whether he has the job permanently or is currently in court.
Oracle said that several other executives were also assigned parts of Kurian's responsibility. That would make sense, with 35,000 people in 32 countries, or about a quarter of the company, reporting to him, said Kurian's LinkedIn profile.
T.K. Anand is an interesting choice to lead Oracle's most important technical unit, being an outsider to Oracle. He joined the company after a 22-year career in engineering at Microsoft in June and worked as a general manager in Microsoft's cloud department based on his LinkedIn profile.
We can understand why Oracle might like its background. Microsoft, like Oracle, is in direct battle with Amazon in the cloud these days. And Microsoft is widely regarded as a competitive provider, the number 2 player, and is particularly popular with large companies that are also Oracle's key customers.
An outsider is also a complete buddy of Kurian, who has been with Oracle since 1996 and was so close to founder, chairman and CTO Larry Ellison that Kurian once had a reputation as CEO, should Ellison ever retire.
The company says Kurian's resignation officially took place on September 28 and that he had left to "pursue other options." But nobody in Oracle is surprised.
Kurian was one of Oracle's senior technical executives responsible for Oracle's all-important cloud business. His exodus was announced earlier this month, first reported by CNBC's Jordan Novet.
Although his departure was described as a "prolonged" absence leave, Business Insider published a copy of his e-mail to the troops and it seemed to use a language that sounded like a final goodbye.
In the company, no one expected the simple staff to be back, an insider told us. This despite the fact that Mark Hurd repeatedly held official management meetings with analysts at the quarterly teleconference last week and said a few times about Kurian's departure, "He has taken a break and we are expecting him back."
Kurian is said to have left because he stumbled with his boss Ellison over running the company's cloud computing business, which, as we've already reported, makes a lot of sense.
Oracle's cloud is years behind market leader Amazon in terms of features. It will cost Oracle billions of dollars and possibly several years to reach Amazon, if possible.
Amazon does not sit still but adds features at an ever-increasing rate, hundreds or more each quarter. And now Amazon has launched a direct attack to pull away Oracle's customers, not only from Oracle's new cloud, but also from its all-embracing database, the technology on which the entire empire is built.
All this brought Kurian and his team in the hot seat.
Although some areas of Oracle's cloud business perform very well, there is evidence that the cloud as a whole is not performing as well as the business wants.
As Business Insider reported, there were some of Oracle's massive sellers who used tricks to make cloud sales, even for customers who were not interested and ultimately would not use the cloud to beat them all off.
While Oracle customers tend to love their products, they also complain that Oracle uses contractual tricks to shake them off for cash.
In 2015, Business Insider reported a tactic in which Oracle audits a customer to confirm that the customer is using Oracle Tech under the software license. If it upsets something, it can send a big bill. An Oracle representative can then tell the customer that in order to reduce the bill, the customer must buy some cloud services, even if the customer does not need or need the cloud service.
Such audits are still taking place, an Oracle insider tells us.
In addition, leading Oracle executives did not make any performance payments tied to cloud targets, and they stopped reporting openly about cloud sales, and Oracle missed analysts' expectations for the last quarter.
None of this means that Oracle is in a sandbox of desperation, but things look bumpier than it would admit.