SAN FRANCISCO—These days, Oracle is looking at PeopleSoft like a live steer walking about with neatly painted lines and labels listing all of the prime cuts of meat.
Its just waiting for the green light to hit it in the head with a sledge hammer so it can turn PeopleSoft into so much sliced and shrink-wrapped beef.
Oracle president Charles Phillips made that clear during his Monday morning news conference here at the companys Oracle OpenWorld customer conference.
In the 18 months since starting its hostile pursuit of PeopleSoft, Oracle has had plenty of time to think about how it would assimilate the company and its products if it ever gets to close the deal, Phillips said.
It will put out the welcome mat for the best PeopleSoft developers, managers and sales executives and cast the rest to the four winds. That was the gist of Phillips description of Oracles plans for PeopleSoft—and indeed is the fate of any company that gets bought out by a bigger and richer suitor.
Oracle will put that added developer talent to work on building and enhancing Oracle products, while the PeopleSoft product line is slated for gradual extinction.
Phillips made it clear that Oracle isnt going to introduce a “superset” combination of the best of both product lines. In this, Phillips is reiterating what Oracle has said all along: that it wasnt bidding for PeopleSoft to acquire products and technology, it was buying it to acquire the customer base and the software industry talent inside the company.
Phillips contends that PeopleSoft customers “have gotten a lot more comfortable” with the prospect of the buyout as time has gone on, especially since Oracle received tender commitments from the holders of 60 percent of the outstanding PeopleSoft shares.
Furthermore, Oracle has had plenty of time to speak to PeopleSoft customers, most of whom are already Oracle customers. “If there is anybody now who wants to know our story about PeopleSoft, we can talk to them, but we have already reached most of them,” Phillips said.
Those customers and corporate CIOs know what the future will be and that they have an eventual migration path from PeopleSoft applications to Oracle applications.
However, Phillips also said the company will not continue the development of new versions of PeopleSoft applications or versions of existing applications for new markets.
Furthermore, Oracle is confident that it wont have much problem retaining the services of talented PeopleSoft developers. “They know we need the developers to enhance the [PeopleSoft] products, and we will need some of them to move over to work on Oracle products,” he said.
Oracle has long had a reputation as a good place for software developers, Phillips said. Oracle is one of the largest employers of software engineers in Northern California.
Those who are worried about the prospect “have had plenty of time to seek alternatives,” Phillips noted. But many “believe that casting their lot with Oracle wont be so bad, and we have heard that from back channels,” he said.
In fact, some of those developers and corporate managers are themselves former Oracle employees, giving Oracle a good handle on the skills and talents of many who are working at PeopleSoft today.
But even Phillips is enough of a realist to know that a lot can happen before Oracle actually gets to swing the sledgehammer. It goes back to Delaware Chancery court, where the company will get a final opportunity to convince Judge Leo Strine that the court should invalidate PeopleSoft “poison pill” defenses. Oracle says these defenses would flood the market with millions of new shares if Oracle actually moves to pay for the shares for which it has received tender offers.
If the court upholds these defenses, then the next battle would come in February, when shareholders will get to vote at PeopleSofts annual meeting on an Oracle-nominated slate of corporate directors committed to accepting the buyout.
Even Phillips acknowledged that as far as he knows today, Oracle could still be battling to bring down the PeopleSoft steer a year from now.