Continue in 2 seconds

What Ellison Didn't Say

  • September 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

Sometimes the decision of what to write about in my column is a challenge because of the time delay between when I write it and when it is published. It is difficult to write about current events because when the column is read, they may no longer be current. However, I'm going to give it a try this month.

As I write this, the testimony in the Department of Justice's antitrust case seeking to block Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft is complete, and the case is now in the hands of the judge, with a ruling expected soon. I have been following the almost soap opera-like antics of Larry Ellison, Oracle's flamboyant CEO, starting with his original hostile takeover bid almost a year ago, all the way through his testimony at the trial. Ellison has said a lot of things in recent weeks, but I thought I would share some of the things Ellison probably did not say when asked about the bid for PeopleSoft. Here are the top 10, in true David Letterman format.

10. "It would be a toss-up which would be bigger - winning this bid for PeopleSoft or winning the America's Cup." Ellison is an avid fan of yachting, and his yacht racing team recently beat the defending America's Cup champion in a race. But I'm sure he never said that; surely yachting is just a sport, while bidding for PeopleSoft isn't ... right?

9. "If we win, I'm going to produce a new version of the Survivor TV show called Corporate America Survivor. Move over, Donald Trump, I'm going to be even bigger than you were with The Apprentice." As he testified at the trial, Ellison did say that the only way Oracle could survive and prosper was through an acquisition strategy.

8. "I promise to continue support for PeopleSoft products forever." Ellison probably did not say this; during the trial, it was inferred that Oracle would drop PeopleSoft products and convert PeopleSoft customers to Oracle - which caused a bit of angst in the PeopleSoft customer base.

7. "Contrary to rumors, Microsoft is not on my shopping list." During the trial Ellison did admit that he has and will continue to consider buying other software makers. His shopping list is said to include names such as Siebel Systems, Sybase, BEA Systems and Business Objects.

6. "Competition? I don't need no stinkin' competition!" We know that Ellison did not say this either. He would not say that the bid was a predatory attempt to take out a competitor. He did say that competition in the software industry is increasing rather than decreasing, and that Oracle's takeover of PeopleSoft would not hurt competition.

5. "If anyone wanted to predict how this trial came out, they should just ask my wife. She predicted the outcome in her latest book." Ellison's wife is romance novelist Melanie Craft. Her latest novel, Man Trouble, is about a romance novelist who is persuaded to seduce a billionaire playboy. No, I am not making this up.

4. "The government says we're changing the subject. Of course we're changing the subject! How else could we win?" The government argued that Oracle tried to muddy the waters by attempting to shift focus from competition in the enterprise software and database software space to the broader technology market.

3. "Craig Conway and I are friends." Nope, don't believe it. Conway, CEO of PeopleSoft, is said to have started discussions with Ellison more than a year ago concerning the merger of the two companies but with Conway as head of the new company. Ellison and Conway could not resolve their differences, which prompted the hostile takeover attempt by Ellison.

2. "Clothes are so important; don't you think?"Actually, Ellison is said to have worn a double-breasted gray suit and red power tie instead of his usual black T-shirt and sports coat to testify in the trial.

Right now, I do not yet know the outcome of the trial. As you read this, the ruling will presumably have been made. Either way, we can be sure that the number 1 thing Larry Ellison did not say (at least in public) is, "Stalker? Me?" (Followed by a grin.) He would never be criticized as stalking PeopleSoft, even though he repeatedly upped the bid price after being soundly rejected by shareholder votes.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access