Those "Charles & YaVaughnie" billboards around New York belong to the co-president of software company Oracle, Charles Phillips. Did living in the shadow of Oracle's high-profile CEO Larry Ellison leave Phillips hungry for attention?
It must have taken something extraordinary to posses such a high-level Silicon Valley executive to aggressively publicize the oh-so-1995 website devoted to his relationship with girlfriend YaVaughnie Wilkins.
Phillips' boss Ellison, after all is determined to show that Oracle is as savvy about delivering slick Web applications as internet-native competitors like NetSuite and Salesforce.com, both started by former Oracle executives. And CharlesPhillipsAndYaVaughnieWilkins.com doesn't exactly scream "Web savvy." It comes complete with a subtle plug for Windows Mail, made by Oracle arch-rival Microsoft (see lower right square on the site).
So why the billboard? Maybe Phillips feels overlooked, and it's easy to see why he would: His boss Ellison is a notorious loudmouth known for feuding with Bill Gates, predatory takeovers of companies run by disgruntled former executives (Ellison has a way of churning through them), and utterly tasteless displays of wealth.
Meanwhile, Phillips must share power with co-president Safra Catz.
Then again, does a former Marine who advises Barack Obama on the economy and serves on the boards of Morgan Stanley, Viacom and Jazz at Lincoln Center really need to troll for attention? Maybe not. You all have offered alternate theories — thanks for tipping us to Phillips' occupation, by the way — in the comments and on email:
- They've been dating for at least eight years (see website) and still no ring. Maybe the billboards, complete with a "you are my soulmate forever" proclamation signed "c.e.p.," is an attempt to placate a would-be spouse.
- "I'm going to guess Charles fucked up, is in the doghouse, and this is either his incredibly over-the-top forgiveness plea or her brilliantly engineered (but severely deranged) revenge" —futuremouse
- "A reality show bid? —AndIAmTellingYou
- "probably some marketing campaign which you guys just fell for... " —podelanstery
Or maybe the guy just wanted to do something sweet for his special lady friend. It's been known to happen!
We're still waiting to hear back from the couple in question. You guys know how to reach us.
UPDATE: Here's a side by side picture of the Chuck E Phillips from his website, and from his official Oracle biography (click to enlarge):