Oracle “say on pay” proposal narrowly defeated by shareholders

Everyone knows that Oracle execs are extremely well paid. The yachts! The planes! The cars! The Hawaiian islands! But it looks as if shareholders are a little less okay with that than they used to be. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, (registration required) 54 percent of shareholders voted against the advisory “Say on Pay” proposal, first mandated by the Dodd-Frank bill in 2011. That percentage is down from the 56 percent who voted against it last year and 59 percent who gave it a thumbs-down in 2012, according to a tally by and cited by the Journal.

Say on Pay is supposed to help rein in runaway compensation for company executives and tie it to company performance, but is largely symbolic. Still, as the Journal pointed out, last year Oracle made some moves to reassure shareholders, even cutting Ellison’s pay package. In a presentation to shareholders, there were a couple slides outlining changes Oracle has made to its compensation structure, including adding more performance-based compensation metrics. Oracle also said it had “significantly reduced the number of shares subject to stock option to Mr. Ellison, Ms. Catz and Mr. Hurd.”

Ellison owns a ton of Oracle stock — controlling something like 25 percent of it — so we can probably figure out which way he voted. This year’s tally was  included in Oracle’s recent 8K filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Oracle, like its legacy IT peers, is negotiating a transition from big, lucrative one-off software deals to the more incremental pay-as-you-go model that came in with the SaaS and cloud era.