Trump Taps Israeli Silicon Valley Bigwig Safra Catz for Transition Team

Catz, co-CEO of the Oracle Corporation, is considered one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley and was the highest-paid female executive in the U.S. in 2015.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz enters Trump Tower ahead of a meeting with the U.S. president-elect, New York City, December 14, 2016.
Andrew Kelly, Reuters

The Trump transition team has its first senior Israeli-American member. Safra Catz, co-CEO of the Oracle Corporation agreed to join the U.S. president-elect’s executive committee managing the transition. According to Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger, Catz, one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, will remain at the company in the process.

Catz was among the group of leading technology industry leaders who met with Trump last week, following a one-on-one meeting with the president-elect a month ago, which sparked rumors that she might be under consideration for a cabinet post. Catz is considered one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley and has played a key role in many of her company's largest mergers and acquisitions. According to Bloomberg Technology, she was the highest-paid female executive in the United States, earning $57 million in 2015, the year she was named to her current position. 

Before the group meeting with Trump last week, Catz released a statement saying “I plan to tell the president-elect that we are with him and will help in any way we can. If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology industry will be stronger and more competitive than ever.”

Catz was born in the city of Holon in Israel. Her parents, physics professors, moved the family to the United States when she was six years old after her father got a job at MIT. She grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. 

Catz holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of Business. Initially, she went to work in the New York world of corporate law and investment banking, but moved to high tech when she joined Oracle in 1999. In 2004 she was named the company’s president and served as its chief financial officer, senior vice president and president before ascending to her current position. She is married to Gal Tirosh and has two sons.

Donald Trump speaks with PayPal's co-founder, Apple Inc's CEO and Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz at Trump Tower in New York, December 14, 2016.
Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

Catz generally shuns the media spotlight and is considered private and low-profile, contrasting in style with the company’s legendary co-founder and high-profile tech billionaire Larry Ellison, to whom she has been a close and loyal adviser. In the past, she has been nicknamed Ellison’s “enforcer” and called Oracle’s “powerful mystery woman.” 

Campaign finance records show that Catz gave money to congressional contenders from both parties and, like Ellison, who is considered one of the more conservative members of the tech community, contributed to a super PAC that supported Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. 

Catz will be the second Silicon Valley representative to join the transition’s executive committee, joining venture capitalist and Trump advisor Peter Thiel, who spoke in support of the president-elect at the Republican National Convention.