California: Former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart has joined computer giant Oracle, reporting directly to controversial chairman and CEO Larry Ellison.
After months of speculation, Lockhart joined the software giant last week and said his role would be defined over the coming months.
He intends to spend around half his time in Washington DC, but denied suggestions he would be working on public affairs or lobbying: 'DC is where I live; I'll go to Silicon Valley as often as I need.'
Several high-profile executives have left Oracle in recent months, including former president and CEO Ray Lane who criticised what he claimed was the domineering style of Ellison. Oracle's reputation was further damaged this summer when it admitted hiring a firm to trawl through Microsoft rubbish bins.
Ellison is reportedly moving to develop a more positive image, in the manner of Bill Gates, through philanthropy and 'thought leadership'.
Observers suggested Lockhart is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. But Mike McCurry, Grassroots.com CEO and Lockhart's White House predecessor, said 'it's hard to be intimidated after the leader of the free world has yelled in your face.'
Before joining the White House in 1997, Lockhart was national press secretary for the Clinton-Gore 1996 re-election campaign. He was previously a senior vice-president of Robinson Lerer Sawyer Miller, where he brought an international media and US political background to the management of communications issues.
Lockhart was also deputy press secretary for the DukakisBentsen 1988 presidential campaign. His journalism experience includes positions at Sky News, CNN, and ABC Network News.