Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is a master media tactician, he knows how to press the right media buttons at (mostly) the right times.
I've seen him do it time and again when there is an acquisition target in his sights. Talk is cheap but it's very effective when you can use it to hurt the value of a company. If you were to try to acquire a company in a hostile bid, talk is a primary weapon.
Is Mr. Ellison doing this to HP?
His response to Hewlett-Packard's civil suit against Mark Hurd was extreme:
Oracle responded with:
"Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."
Wow. "...virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together."
That's a very hard response to a civil suit against Mark Hurd. It's not filed against Oracle.
It seems clear that Larry Ellison is spoiling for a fight. The hire of Mark Hurd, along with his standard confidentiality contracts, was designed to provoke a reaction.
And now his response to the suit, virtually cutting off all business with HP, is very harsh. It will undoubtably affect HP's business, and ultimately, its stock market valuation. A cheaper HP, leaderless, is an acquisition target. Since HP's loss of its CEO, it has continued to slide in value while Oracle's valuation has grown.
Will Larry Ellison use Mr. Hurd to mount a bid against HP? It wouldn't surprise me.
There is more discussion on this topic here:
- Can Oracle, Hurd topple HP, IBM without services?
- Questions for Oracle
- Oracle’s Hurd for Phillips swap: What’s the customer relations impact?
- Hurd joins Oracle, Phillips resigns
- Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don’t be surprised
- Oracle Open World 2010: confusion or clarity?