Hey Larry (Ellison), worry about your own stuff before firing barbs

As night follows day, Oracle's Larry Ellison fires barbs at H-P's Leo Apotheker's appointment as CEO H-P. It is both tasteless and pointless.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Larry Ellison, CEO Oracle didn't take long before opining on Leo Apotheker's appointment as CEO H-P.

“I’m speechless,” he wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal. “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.”

Such comments are both totally predictable and stand in sharp contrast to Apotheker's gracious response to the Red Stack threat.

Rather than wallowing in the titillation such barbs offer, let's stop and think what's happening here. The Wall Street Journal didn't bother to question the veracity of Ellison's statement. After all, it plays well to the baiting page view advertising desperation that many publications face rather than the cold hard analysis that matters to both investors and customers.

If you look at Oracle's recent publishing history then if the WSJ doesn't buy this kind of trash talk then the New York Times is next in line. Same idea, same desired end result. It's both demeaning and pathetic. Here's why.

The moment Oracle is faced with a request to respond to issues of importance, it clams up. This is an issue I have raised with senior Oracle PR reps in recent times. The response is usually a grimace and quiet acknowledgment that Oracle doesn't always have a good answer.

There is something both sick and insidious that Oracle puts out these kinds of outrageous statement with apparent impunity but when put to the test cannot or will not offer people able to respond to the inevitable probing questions. This is a topic I have raised with Oracle and for which I have yet to receive a plausible response. Go figure the reality.

There was a time when Ellison's epithets both made some sense and were entertaining. It is hard to say the same today. Rather than answer questions of importance, Oracle chooses to play the enterprise market clown. It makes for great comedy but that doesn't figure in any deal I know. Unfortunately it sounds a lot more like the schoolboy big mouth than a company that is serious about the world of business. I'm sure this is not lost on customers. After all, if you express yourself that way about competitors then what does that say about how you view the companies that keep you alive?

And it is such a pity. Oracle has a cadre of truly outstanding database people called Oracle Aces. I know a few of them and they can easily stand toe to toe with SAP Mentors as people with genuine integrity and champions for the technology they represent. It is ironic that in a recent email exchange with a senior Ace I said:

As you probably know, SAP Mentors and other SAPpers get a LOT of play in the enterprise media space and on Twitter. I've long felt the Aces could do so much more to publicize their work, achievements and community. They often seem below the radar. Now - it could easily be me missing stuff since I spend more time in the SAP world than Oracle but even so...I am always willing to give great people as much airplay as I can.

How can I do that with any sense of integrity when faced with this kind of trash from the company these well intentioned people represent?

In the meantime, Mr Ellison might do well to consider the reception his Exalogic double take keynotes had on those who paid good money to attend an Oracle Open World that most of my colleagues regarded as a dud. Should that not be his focus?

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