Oracle on HP

Author: Steven Zolman

New CEO Leo Apotheker is already off to a questionable start as HP’s new CEO. He hasn’t even started his new job yet (he starts on November 1), but what does he plan to do on day one? Well, he’ll be starting his new career in the cross-hairs of Oracle’s lawyers, as a witness in a courtroom in Oracle’s corporate espionage trial against SAP as he’s been called as a witness. SAP doesn’t deny the wrongdoing of former subsidiary TomorrowNow, but is simply disputing the amount of the damages. Clearly, Oracle’s goal will be to find out how much Leo knew about this, and when he knew it in an attempt to discredit him as much as possible amid escalating competitiveness between HP and Oracle.

Clearly, not only have things cooled between HP and Oracle, they have gotten downright hostile. Ever since Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, the competition has been increasingly vigorous, and Oracle has been losing share on Sun to both IBM and HP. Increasing competitive snipes were inevitable, and we are seeing them in full force from all sides.

Oracle’s outspoken CEO Larry Ellison called the HP board’s handling of Mark Hurd’s dismissal the worst personnel decision since the Apple board fired Steve Jobs. Ellison put his money where his mouth was too, and hired Hurd as Oracle’s co-President. That launched a suit by HP of Hurd and Oracle – which has since been settled, but emotions are still extremely high.

Ellison is also hardly speechless about HP’s hiring of SAPs former CEO Leo Apotheker. Ellison was critical of the HP board’s decision to hire Apotheker, suggesting they had several good internal candidates, but instead, they chose someone who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP. Ellison has been highly critical of HPs board, and believes that part of the problem with the board lies with the fact that none of them own much HP stock, so they have little to lose with bad decisions. Ellison claims that the HP employees, customers, partners and shareholders will suffer under Apotheker, and recommends the HP board resign, en masse; right away.

That’s unlikely to happen, but it seems that the rhetoric between HP and Oracle will almost certainly continue and will likely intensify as both firms look to be leaders in fully integrated technology stack solutions.

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