by Aaron Lazenby and Margaret Terry Lindquist; additional editing by Marta Bright, May 2007
Safra Catz' devotion to Oracle and its customers has been readily apparent during the years since she joined the company. Although her responsibilities at Oracle are broad, included is an executive sponsorship role that puts her in daily contact with customers all over the world.
Catz joined Oracle in 1999, has been president since 2004, and has served as CFO since 2005. She spoke with Profit about Oracle's relationships with its customers and how companies have to work with customers if they expect to succeed in a competitive environment.
PROFIT: Thirty years for a tech company is quite an accomplishment. Why do you think Oracle has prospered through the boom and bust?
CATZ: Oracle never rests on its laurels—never. It is always looking forward and trying to build better products for customers. It never takes anything for granted and it keeps improving.
PROFIT: Oracle has changed a lot in the past few years. How do you see Oracle's current position within the technology industry, both the way it's perceived and how it compares to other software companies?
CATZ: As the industry matures, and it's become clear that customers need better products, it has meant that customers have needed companies that can afford to invest wisely in R&D. Our No. 1 mission is to invest in development and products.
PROFIT: What's your philosophy about how a company like Oracle needs to interact with its customers?
CATZ: When people buy our products, they're not buying something that is disposable. It's really a commitment to the future. Buying our products is the beginning, not the end, of the relationship. A lot of companies look at their customers and say, "Once you pay me, the work is done." The view we take is that once you purchase a product from us, our responsibility increases dramatically and it is really our job to make you successful, because we can't be successful unless that happens. Maybe it's a cliché, but we shine in reflected glory only. Whatever it is that our customers need to be successful, we're going to try to make available to them.
PROFIT: Can you tell us a little about a customer that you're working with now?