NEW YORK—In his keynote address this morning at the CeBIT America show here, PeopleSoft Inc. President and CEO Craig Conway made only a passing reference to the controversy swirling around rival Oracle Corp.s hostile bid to acquire his company, but the tone of his speech made it clear that he expects PeopleSoft to be around for a long time.
Speaking to several hundred people in the audience, Conway outlined the steps that PeopleSoft will take to improve its enterprise software products in order to help customers reduce costs and improve efficiencies within their businesses. He also outlined the advantages of the companys $1.75 billion bid to buy Denver-based J.D. Edwards & Co.—including expanding PeopleSofts markets and growing its product line—and that industry reaction validated the move. Separately, PeopleSoft this morning officially commenced its offer to exchange J.D. Edwards stock for PeopleSoft stock.
“When you announce an acquisition, the one thing you can always count on is everybody is going to hate it,” he said. “But an interesting thing happened when we announced [the J.D. Edwards deal]. Everybody loved it. … It caught the interest of Wall Street. It caught the interest of industry analysts. It definitely caught the interest of our competitors.”
The last sentence was the only point during his hour-long talk that Conway made any reference to Oracles bid to buy PeopleSoft, an intent announced by Oracle officials just days after PeopleSoft announced the J.D. Edwards deal.
Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., initially bid $16 per share on its Pleasanton, Calif., rival, an offer that was quickly rejected. On Wednesday, Oracle upped the bid to $19.50 per share, and PeopleSoft issued a statement saying its board of directors will review the new offer. However, the company reiterated that its objections didnt merely focus on the price, but also antitrust concerns, lengthy regulatory review processes and a potential negative impact on PeopleSoft customers.
Oracles takeover attempt also has touched off a flurry of lawsuits, as PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and the state of Connecticut all have sued the software maker. Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison yesterday sent a letter to Connecticuts governor and attorney general stating that the state was an important customer and that Oracle would continue to support PeopleSoft software if the merger goes through.
During his talk, Conway spoke of the need for enterprise software to mature to the point of making it easier for users to own it. And he made it clear that he intends for PeopleSoft to lead that maturation process.
He said the technology already has helped businesses reduce costs and improve efficiencies through the use of such features as embedded analytics, the integration of business applications and the move to put these applications online. The industry has gone from businesses coding their own software to being able to buy it off the shelf.
“Today, its prepackaged software, and prepackaged costs less,” Conway said. “Thats the way its done today. It costs less, but it still costs more than it should. … Everything about enterprise software today still involves lots of people.”
Comparing the current software situation with that of printers 15 years ago, Conway said the best improvement in that industry was the creation of the UBS port, which simplified the installation and operation of printers.
“The USB port has nothing to do with the quality of the printer, but it has everything to do with the ownership experience,” he said, adding that the software industry has to do the same thing.
PeopleSoft has created a group of 500 developers whose goal is to make enterprise software easier to use, he said. Among the other improvements Conway is promising is reducing the software installation time of PeopleSoft products to one day embedding performance monitors into the software. He also said that all the companys software will soon support Linux, reducing what he said is the industrys “dependence on the Microsoft [Corp.] desktop operating system” and giving users a choice of OSes on PeopleSoft applications.
“Were supporting Linux not because were anti-Microsoft, but because were pro-choice,” he said. “Its better for the industry to have choices.”
In addition, Conway said that the top business software providers—PeopleSoft, Oracle and SAP AG—must work together to eliminate users need for middleware to integrate products from different vendors. The three vendors must code their products to work together out-of-the-box, he said. In that vein, Conway said that the next version of its supplier management relationship software will be coded to work directly with software from Oracle and SAP.
“Now, if Oracle and SAP would do that same, it would be tremendous,” he said. “This is the beginning of the end of middleware.”