Jan 22, 2010 1:22 PM by Vicky Nguyen, NBC
Oracle co-president Charles E. Phillips is a handsome dude. According to a recent magazine profile, he has a lovely wife, Karen Phillips, and son Chas.
So why is he popping up on billboards across the country with his arms around another lovely lady, YaVaughnie Wilkins?
Here's the explanation Phillips offered, in a statement forwarded to NBC Bay Area by a spokeswoman: "I had an 8 ½ year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins. My divorce proceedings began in 2008. The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended and we both wish each other well."
But it appears that Wilkins may have been intent on publicizing their extramarital relationship just as Phillips was trying to make amends with his wife.
The billboards, reportedly placed in New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco, point people to a website that catalogs in meticulous photographic and video detail a long romance between Phillips and Wilkins dating back to at least 2001.
It couldn't come at a worse time for Phillips, a top dealmaker at the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software company. The company is in the midst of getting a multibillion-dollar deal to buy Sun Microsystems through regulatory approvals.
While Phillips says he and Karen began divorce proceedings in 2008, evidence suggests that the couple may be in the process of reconciling. According to Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip blog, Phillips recently appeared at an award ceremony in New York with Karen and effusively thanked his wife in his acceptance speech. And the two were photographed together at a gala held by the American Museum of Natural History in New York on November 19, 2009.
Béla Kovács, the San Jose-based designer of the Phillips-Wilkins website, described it as a "family album" on her website and told Valleywag it was commissioned as a gift to Phillips by Wilkins. But that was last fall, and with Phillips giving public speeches in praise of his wife of late, the love triangle might have gotten rather pointed indeed.
Since Phillips works for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, one of Silicon Valley's most notorious playboys before his marriage to romance novelist Melanie Craft, it's hard to imagine Phillips's romantic intrigue having any impact on his job. The scandalous billboards and long affair could have political implications.
That's because Phillips was appointed to the Economic Recovery Advisory Board by President Barack Obama, and lord knows while there's plenty of hanky-panky in D.C., it's generally not well-received by a nation at large full of heteronormative prudes and their fiercely monogamous mindset.
At the very least this is the sexiest, most dramatic story to come out of the database business since, well, ever.