NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison is just as sharp and combative as ever, despite the fact that he recently turned 70. That's why it came as such a shock Thursday that he had stepped down as CEO at the company he founded 37 years ago.
But let's not assume that Ellison should be pushed out to pasture just yet.
Oracle's board of directors named him "Executive Chairman" and appointed him Chief Technology Officer, a post that's generally responsible for charting the technology strategy employed by a company. And let's not forget that the executive chairman title is reserved only for those who want to make it perfectly clear that they still have a day-to-day role.
More than that, when you have a founder who is in a day-to-day role, they are still going to be treated internally by employees as the guy who started the company, especially if they still own a quarter of the outstanding shares.
So, make no mistake, Ellison is still the guy running Oracle.
His executive chairman role puts him a notch above his former direct reports Mark Hurd and Safra Catz. Hurd and Catz, former Oracle co-presidents, will now each serve as Oracle CEO for their respective areas. It's a rather unusual arrangement. Ellison does not even have co-CEOs -- he has Hurd as CEO and Catz as CEO.
I've heard of CEOs setting up "horse-races" with two or more possible successors being told they're in the running for a top job. However, this is the first time I've ever seen a horse-race take place between two current CEOs to be the last CEO standing.
Again, the signal to all is Ellison is still in charge and pulling the strings of all around him like they are marionettes.
So, don't expect Ellison to go buy another Hawaiian island, or win another America's Cup -- oh, wait, he already did those while still running Oracle. Don't expect him to be rolled into a corner at Shady Acres nursing home where he'll stare outside the window while kids play outside. Ellison is still firmly in charge at Oracle.
It's not the end of the Ellison era yet.
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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
TheStreet Ratings team rates ORACLE CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate ORACLE CORP (ORCL) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, solid stock price performance and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: ORCL Ratings Report