Oracle’s co-CEO Mark Hurd is to take a leave of absence in order to address medical issues that were not disclosed by the cloud firm.

The news came as first-quarter revenues missed Wall Street expectations, sending shares in the firm down 2 percent in extended trading on Wednesday.

Mark Hurd is co-CEO of Oracle, along with fellow CEO Safra Catz. The two run the firm, after Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO in 2014 to serve as Executive Chairman of the Board, and as Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Oracle financials

For the three months ending 31 August, Oracle posted a net profit of $2.1bn, down 6 percent from a net profit of $2.3bn in the same year-ago quarter.

Total revenues came in at $9.22bn, showing modest growth from $9.19 a year earlier, but missing estimates of $9.29bn.

Cloud services license support revenues brought in the largest chunk of money at $6.8bn, up 3 percent from $6.6bn a year ago. Cloud license and on-premise license revenues were $812m.

Oracle also said it plans to buy back an additional $15bn in stock.

“Our cloud ERP businesses, including both Fusion ERP and NetSuite ERP, grew 33% in Q1,” said Oracle co-CEO, Mark Hurd.

“We now have over 6,500 Fusion ERP customers and over 18,000 NetSuite ERP customers,” he added. This continued strong growth has solidified our number one market leader position in cloud ERP worldwide, and our number one position in the overall applications business in North America.”

Leave of absence

But it was the news that Mark Hurd is to take a leave of absence that generated most headlines. Catz and Ellison will cover Hurd’s responsibilities during his absence, the firm revealed in a statement.

“Though we all worked hard together to close the first quarter, I’ve decided that I need to spend time focused on my health,” Hurd wrote to Oracle staff. “At my request, the Board of Directors has granted me a medical leave of absence.”

“As you all know, Larry, Safra and I have worked together as a strong team, and I have great confidence that they and the entire executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we will showcase at the upcoming OpenWorld,” he added.

Hurd then went to say he loved Oracle and wished it all success during his absence.

Hurd will continue to receive all employment benefits during his leave, Oracle said.

“Mark has requested a leave of absence from Oracle to address some health related issues and we all wish him a speedy recovery,” said Ellison. “Oracle has an extremely capable CEO in Safra Catz and an extraordinarily deep team of executives, many with long tenure at Oracle. Safra and I will cover Mark’s responsibilities during his absence with support from the rest of our strong management team.”

“Mark was extremely engaged with the business through the end of our just completed Q1, but now Mark needs to focus on his health,” said Catz. “We will miss him at our OpenWorld conference next week, but we understand that he needs to rest and take care of himself.”

Former HP boss

Hurd is a well known figure with tech circles and has good reason to love Oracle. From 2005 to 2010 he was CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.

But in 2010 Hurd joined Oracle in 2010 at personal low point of his life, when Ellison hired him a month after he had been forced to resign as CEO of HP amid allegations of sexual harassment.

No charges were ever levelled at Hurd, but HP’s board of directors said he had violated the company’s business practices by filing misleading expense reports.

During his five years at HP, Hurd had been credited with stabilising the company’s financial numbers, but drew criticism from some corners for relying too much on cost-cutting as a way of hitting those goals.

Ellison quickly hired Hurd as Oracle president and sharply criticised the HP board of directors, saying the decision to get rid of Hurd was as bad as the decision by the Apple board in the mid-1980s to fire founder Steve Jobs.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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