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Ariel Kelman Oracle

Ariel Kelman, former chief marketing officer at Oracle.

Oracle


  • Ariel Kelman, a top marketing executive poached from AWS, left the database giant in June.
  • His departure follows a budget spat with CEO Safra Catz, the sources said.
  • Kelman has led some high-profile marketing deals for Oracle, such as a deep push into sports sponsorships.

It’s been a tumultuous time for thousands of Oracle employees while restructuring other teams as the company began laying off staff this week, according to multiple current and former employees. Staff described the atmosphere as chaotic and frustrating.

Sources told Insider that no division has been hit harder than Oracle’s marketing, especially those that perform marketing functions for advertising, marketing and customer experience (CX) products.

The layoffs follow the departure of chief marketing officer Ariel Kelman in June, multiple people familiar with the matter told Insider. Kelman’s departure came as a surprise to many in his department, but officials have not communicated about his departure, the sources said.

“Everything was going well, and then all of a sudden, Ariel quit,” said a person who worked in marketing at Oracle at the time. “Then they got hacked. Nobody told us a thing.”

A second marketer at the time described the atmosphere around Kelman as “very quiet,” forcing marketers to discuss news on Zoom outside of the official company Slack channel.

When Kelman was hired in January 2020, Oracle’s poaching of one of AWS’ top marketing executives was seen as an industry coup. Oracle offers Kelman “a unique opportunity to build a marketing department and be part of an ongoing cloud transformation project at one of the most important tech companies of the past 30 years,” Kelman told Insider in August 2020.

However, Kelman’s departure came after a dispute with Oracle CEO Safra Catz over cloud marketing spending, the trio said. Oracle and Kelman did respond to requests for comment.

“They claim that Ariel Kelman is over-spending, over-promising,” said a person familiar with the marketing organization.

Kelman leads high-profile marketing deals for Oracle, like push In-depth sports sponsorship.

In February, the Red Bull Formula 1 team Announce Oracle has become the title sponsor and the team will be renamed Oracle Red Bull Racing.Red Bull F1 Team is one of the top teams in sports, so such an important naming deal won’t come cheap: Terms were not disclosed, but The Associated Press reports Oracle has committed $500 million in technology over five years.

Oracle is already Golden State Warriors basketball team, also a sponsor of the basketball team Premier Leagueand Sail GP.

But during Kelman’s tenure, marketing budgets for various products — even for teams pursuing tried-and-true sales tactics like industry conferences — were slashed to almost zero, according to a person familiar with the matter. Teams that want to go to meetings to showcase their products to potential customers are told to use other budgets, such as those belonging to the sales team, the person said.

A source who was fired in recent rounds of layoffs said paltry marketing support made it difficult for some of Oracle’s cloud products to compete.

“We didn’t invest in the right ads like YouTube ads, Google ads and TV ads,” the source said. “People from Salesforce and Adobe are there to sell their stuff.”

Other senior marketers, including Kelman, who was hired from AWS, have also been fired, the sources said. Kelman’s former team is now under the purview of Jason Maynard, formerly senior director of sales and marketing for Oracle’s NetSuite business management software.

Read more: Oracle insiders describe ‘complete chaos’ from layoffs and restructuring, while employees brace for more

Do you work at Oracle or have insights to share? Contact reporter Ryan Joe via encrypted text messaging service Signal (+1 (310) 880-8992), email (rjoe@businessinsider.com) or Twitter DM (@threefirstnames); Belle Lin via encrypted email (bellelin@protonmail.com) or email (blin@insider.com); Ashley Stewart via email (astewart@insider.com) or Signal (+1-425-344-8242).



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