Oracle CEO Larry Ellison fired several verbal broadsides at Hewlett-Packard's choice of Leo Apotheker as CEO. Those could be the first shots in what promises to be a fierce competition.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is mincing no words about
Hewlett-Packard's recent appointment of Leo Apotheker as its chief executive.
His vitriol emphasizes the increasingly combative nature of the HP-Oracle
"I'm speechless," Ellison reportedly wrote in an e-mail to
the Wall Street Journal, reprinted
Oct. 1. "HP had several good internal candidates ... but instead they pick a
guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP."
Ellison reportedly followed that missive with a weekend
e-mail to Reuters, which described SAP as an intellectual-property thief under
Apotheker's tenure. "SAP has already publically confessed and accepted
financial responsibility for systematically stealing intellectual property over
a long period of time," Ellison wrote, according to the
news service. "Much of this industrial espionage and intellectual property
theft occurred while Leo was CEO of SAP."
HP has largely refrained from commenting on Ellison's
supposed attacks. The company anointed Apotheker as its chief executive Sept.
30, replacing Mark Hurd, who stepped down in the wake of scandal and was
promptly named co-president of Oracle.
"I bring to HP a lot international and global experience,"
Apotheker told reporters and analysts during an Oct. 1 conference call. "HP is
a global company, and one of my attributes is that I'm a global citizen." He
also promised to expand HP's focus to "every part of the stack."
Apotheker's nomination led to furious online debate over his
relative merits as a chief executive. While some pundits expressed concern over
what they perceived as his lack of consumer-product knowledge, the general
consensus is that, after two decades at SAP, the man knows his enterprise
That knowledge should prove useful as HP competes with
Oracle for its share of enterprise IT. The combination of Apotheker and former
Oracle COO/president Ray Lane, recently named HP's chairman, "represent the
strongest brain trust of folks who know how to fight Oracle and build a company
that could do that well in particular," Enderle
Group principal analyst Rob Enderle wrote in an Oct. 1 e-mail to eWEEK.
HP will certainly focus more of its attention on software as
a growth engine. "HP should be more valuable than the sum of its parts," Apotheker
said during his conference call. "We all believe that software is the glue
to make that happen." Not unsurprisingly, software is also a key part of
Oracle's plan to offer an integrated and holistic stack to its enterprise customers.
In the end, HP's hiring Apotheker is as much a statement as
Oracle hiring Hurd: Both companies seem to be gunning for a true battle royale
in the quarters ahead.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.