Oracle President Charles Phillips' 8-and-a-half year affair with an actress-writer took a very public turn this week. It's unclear whether there will be any fallout for Phillips, essentially the face of Oracle's customer relations.
The big question: Does someone's personal life issues impact whether customers sign up for big enterprise software licenses?
Phillips affair with YaVaughnie Wilkins hit the billboards last week. Reports were everywhere--New York Daily News, New York Post and CBS News among others---about Wilkins and Phillips. In a nutshell, Wilkins took out billboards in New York, Atlanta and San Francisco to out the affair with Phillips. Phillips entered divorce proceedings in 2008 and the Wilkins relationship is over.
It's safe to say that the Wilkins billboard incident is an embarrassment, but does it matter for software sales?
Reaction from a lot of Oracle watchers varies dramatically. Among some of issues raised by enterprise software industry insiders:
- What happens if some customers refuse to deal with Phillips? Is it a board of directors issue or does CEO Larry Ellison have to make a call.
- Phillips may need to lay low until this dies down. That means Phillips, a key cog in Oracle's customer relations, won't be as visible as the company outlines its strategy for Sun.
- The case for Phillips to be the next Oracle CEO just got weaker.
- Phillips should resign since he embarrassed Oracle.
My take: These questions and concerns are valid, but it's extremely hard for me to make the leap that what Phillips did in his spare time will impact the return on your enterprise software buying decisions. It's not like Phillips was running for president of the United States. It's not like Phillips was a preacher. We're talking enterprise software licensing---and now hardware---and what customers get out of it. Aside from a snicker or two it's hard to envision a long-term hit to Phillips career.
What's your take as an IT buyer?