Oracle Exec Poached From AWS Is Out After Fight With Catz Over Budgets

Ariel Kelman Oracle
Ariel Kelman, the former CMO of Oracle.

  • Ariel Kelman, the top marketing exec Oracle poached from AWS, left the database giant in June.
  • Sources say his departure comes after a dispute with CEO Safra Catz over budgets.
  • Kelman had led splashy marketing deals for Oracle like pushing deeper into sports sponsorships.

It’s been a time of turmoil for thousands of Oracle employees as the company began layoffs this week, gutting entire teams while reorganizing others, according to multiple current and former employees. Employees have described the atmosphere as chaotic and demoralizing.

None of the units have been harder hit than Oracle’s marketing department, specifically those performing marketing functions for advertising, marketing and customer experience (CX) products, sources told Insider. 

The layoffs come after chief marketing officer Ariel Kelman left in June, multiple people told Insider. Kelman’s departure came as a surprise to many within his unit, sources say, with no official communication regarding his exit.

“Everything was going great, and then all of a sudden Ariel was exited,” said a person working at Oracle in marketing at the time. “And then they went dark. No one told us a thing.”

A second person in marketing at the time described the atmosphere around Kelman as “very hush-hush,” forcing marketing staffers to discuss the news on Zoom, outside of official company Slack channels.

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

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

“They claim Ariel Kelman way overspent, way over-committed,” said a person familiar with the marketing organization.

Kelman led splashy marketing deals for Oracle like pushing deeper into sports sponsorships.

In February, the Red Bull Formula One car racing team announced that Oracle had become a title sponsor and the team was changing its name to Oracle Red Bull Racing. The Red Bull F1 team is one of sports’ top teams, so such a prominent naming deal would not come cheap: Terms weren’t disclosed but the AP reported that Oracle had committed $500 million in technology over five years.

Oracle was already a sponsor of the Golden State Warriors basketball team and is also a sponsor of the Premier League, and SailGP.

But, according to one person familiar, marketing budgets for various products during Kelman’s tenure — even for teams pursuing tried-and-true sales tactics like industry conferences — had been slashed to virtually nothing. Teams wanting to attend conferences to demo their wares to prospective customers were told to use other budgets, like that belonging to the sales team, this person said.

A source who was let go during the latest rounds of layoffs said the paltry marketing support made it difficult for some of Oracle’s cloud products to compete.

“We did not invest in the right advertising, like YouTube ads and Google ads and TV ads,” this source said. “Salesforce and Adobe people are out there marketing their stuff.”

Other senior marketing staffers, including those Kelman recruited from AWS, have also been laid off, sources said. Kelman’s former teams now fall under the purview of Jason Maynard, who had been a senior leader of sales and marketing for Oracle’s NetSuite business-management software.

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

Do you work at Oracle or have insight to share? Contact reporters Ryan Joe via encrypted-text-messaging service Signal (+1 (310) 880-8992), email ( or Twitter DM (@threefirstnames); Belle Lin via encrypted email ( or email (; Ashley Stewart via email ( or Signal (+1-425-344-8242).

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