Is Oracle Finally Seeing Clearly?

Missteps and market shifts leave Larry Ellison and Ray Lane scrambling to halt a slide

Raymond J. Lane should have been kicking back during his June getaway to the ritzy Caribbean island of St. Bart's. But instead of deciding between mai tais and daiquiris, the president of Oracle Corp. found himself pondering a much bigger problem: how to revive Oracle's sagging business. The software maker's product-revenue growth had dropped into the single digits, profit margins were narrowing, and the stock price had stalled. Lane knew something dramatic had to be done. The conclusion he reached while sunbathing: "I had to get closer to the action."

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