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Oracle Recruits Palo Alto CIO for Public-Sector Division

Having spearheaded across-the-board upgrades for public tech in the city of Palo Alto, Jonathan Reichental will join Oracle as its global industries solution leader for gov tech.

Editor's note: After this story was published, Jonathan Reichental decided not to join Oracle. Read our update here.

After nearly seven years of upgrading technology in Palo Alto, Calif., the city’s chief information officer has been tapped to become the global industries solution leader for Oracle’s public-sector division.

Jonathan Reichental told Government Technology he’s resigning next month and scheduled to start at Oracle on Dec. 17. In an executive-level strategy position at the company’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., Reichental will be responsible for working with Oracle teams and stakeholders to develop a cohesive, progressive global strategy, including a clear vision for their smart city and urban-innovation activities.

One of the largest software developers in the world, Oracle reported nearly $40 billion in revenue in 2018 and employs about 137,000 people worldwide.

The move represents a return to private-sector innovation for Reichental, but a leap forward in the scope of his influence. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Reichental immigrated to the United States in the 1990s and holds four degrees, including a Ph.D. in information systems. In the intervening time, he spent nearly nine years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, including as director of IT innovations, taught as an adjunct professor at a handful of universities and was chief information officer of O’Reilly Media in Northern California before being head-hunted by Palo Alto.

In Palo Alto, he said, his focus was modernization.

“I had a pretty progressive strategy around open government, everything from open data to hackathons and app challenges, all sorts of online forms for community engagement,” Reichental said. “We delivered well over 250 technology projects in every single domain of the city, everything from libraries to our utilities organization to public works, transportation and so on. I’m very proud of the work we did around open government. We were very early in the whole open data movement, and early on in my tenure we deployed three different types of open data environments: one for budget transparency, one for general data and then a very unique GIS open data platform.”

Since 2011, Reichental oversaw the replacement of Palo Alto’s entire network and phone system; the implementation of a hybrid cloud environment to accommodate much of the city’s technology; the deployment of over 60 online services, citywide Wi-Fi and a full online library; upgrades to ticketing and asset-management systems; and the hiring of the city’s first information security manager.

Some of this landed Reichental a spot on Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers list in 2013.

Oracle, an established player in a quickly evolving industry, has not always played well with emerging technologies. The company drew criticism from industry insiders last year, for instance, for Senior Vice President Kenneth Glueck’s comments to the American Technology Council deriding open source coding and custom development.

But the company has shown signs of taking a bit of a different approach recently, and Reichental is optimistic about leading a progressive new public-sector strategy for the company, on a global scale.

“I’ve spent 30 years in tech … and Oracle has always been a persistent, important player in my entire career, no matter what I’ve done,” he said. “I think they’re embracing a bold strategy now to become more of a contemporary, innovative leader. If you look at their portfolio … they’re into AI, they’re into blockchain, they’re into data analytics, they’re into cybersecurity. Of course they’re into all the traditional [enterprise resource planning] realms, so they have a massive product portfolio. They’re making a big play for the cloud. But I have to learn more.”

Oracle hired another Bay Area gov tech leader, Peter Pirnejad from the city of Napa, in October.

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.