Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 7/10/2005I've never been a big fan of soap operas — if you want the real thing, go and read some Viking sagas for true top-notch backstabbing, failed romance and family feuds. Likewise, the thrills and spills of CRM and big databases have passed me by.

Friday 7/10/2005

I've never been a big fan of soap operas — if you want the real thing, go and read some Viking sagas for true top-notch backstabbing, failed romance and family feuds. Likewise, the thrills and spills of CRM and big databases have passed me by.

Yet combine the two and you're talking. In particular, program your browser so whenever it loads a page containing the words 'Oracle' or 'Ellison' it plays the theme tune from Dallas — and prepare to be transported to a new world of infotainment. Will Oracle consider buying Salesforce.com? "I think it will be more fun to crush them", said president Charles Phillips — although whether he was stroking a white Persian kitty and aiming his anti-matter ray from an underground bunker was not recorded.

Meanwhile, Salesforce.com is busy metaphorically hanging out in the bars near Oracle's latest toy, Siebel, chewing on a cigar and riffling through bible-thick stacks of twenty dollar bills. "Hey, Mac," it says. "You look like one of them fancy Siebel employees. Why not come back with me and let's see what we can do with five... thousand... dollars. It's me or ol' Death Daddy Larry, y'know... "

It probably took a little more than five kilobucks, but the latest name to get the unrefusable offer from Salesforce.com is one Craig Conway. Yeah, that Craig Conway, ex of Oracle, ex of Peoplesoft (now even Peoplesoft is ex of Peoplesoft but not of Oracle). He's been hurt before. He wants to hurt back, and if it means making buddy-buddy with some old sparring partners then so be it. My enemy's enemy's henchmen are my henchmen, and all that.

The only thing lacking in the whole unfolding drama is romance between the battling tribes. That's hard, given the peculiar preponderance of the male gender in the database corridors of power — but don't give up hope. We're talking San Francisco, y'hear what I'm sayin'?

Still, the bombastic bickering does help distract us from the rather uncomfortable fact that Ellison — a man who "needs a forklift to carry his ego around" according to a local joke — is setting his sights a little lower now than during the days when he made public claim to Bill Gates' crown. Remember the network computer that was going to vape MS from the face of the earth and make Oracle the king of the future? It's Google's turn to play that game now. Even soap operas need new faces.