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What's the Oracle Trial Against SAP Really About? 160

Ponca City writes "Chris O'Brien writes in the Merucry News that Larry Ellison's lawsuit against bitter rival SAP gives Ellison the opportunity to deliver the final humiliation to his company's greatest foe of the past decade while sending a blunt message to Oracle's next great enemy, Hewlett-Packard: 'This is who you are fighting. This is how determined we are to win. Get ready.' O'Brien writes that it's a crafty bit of psychological warfare that is already having the desired effect. When Oracle decided to subpoena former SAP CEO Léo Apotheker after he was appointed president and CEO of HP, Apotheker decided to stay out of the country to avoid testifying so now we have the bizarre spectacle of the new CEO of the largest technology company in the world unable to show his face in Silicon Valley. Ellison loves to fight. In gaining control of PeopleSoft, Ellison demonstrated the love of combat and confrontation that has made him one of the wealthiest men on the planet. He waged an 18-month hostile takeover bid to acquire the company, and fought off an effort by the US Department of Justice to torpedo the deal. 'Oracle probably could have settled this case [with SAP],' writes O'Brien. 'But why pass up a glorious chance to subpoena Apotheker and send your new opponent running in circles?'"
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What's the Oracle Trial Against SAP Really About?

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  • by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:39PM (#34181088) Journal

    I've known a few people like that, very combative types. They tend to wind up being very lonely and pathetic later in life.

    • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:50PM (#34181158) Homepage
      Ellison is a narcissist, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. Those types usually never are introspective enough to realize what miserable people they are, and they're surrounded by enough sycophants that it seems on the surface that they aren't lonely.
      • The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh []. Anyway, Hanh talks about a billionaire (no name given) that came to Plumb Village and how he has a body guard because he's always afraid of being attacked or kidnapped, thinks everyone who's nice to him just wants to know him for his money, he has to work constantly and little time for loved ones, he has a huge amount of pressure, and there's some other things that I don't remember. You start thinking twice about being a billionaire and I didn't get the impression that t
        • If you liked "The Art of War" then you'll love "What's the Difference betwee God and Larry Ellison" by Michael Lewis. The answer, of course, is obvious: God knows he's not Larry Ellison.

        • Ellison has been known to keep a copy of a certain biography of Genghis Khan [] on or near the desk in his office. It is also said that he is an admirer of the Sun Tzu [] and the Art of War [].
      • Loneliness is being surrounded by psychophants.

        With enough corporate income, one is fairly doomed to sycophant overload.


        I for one welcome our new sycophant overlords.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You are just jealous. All three people you mentioned created multi-billion companies out of nothing, employed hundreds of thousands of people, paid billions in taxes. They have each had more influence on your life than just about anybody else except perhaps your parents. Maybe you are right about the narcissism but it takes obsessive, driven types to do what they did even if they might not be the nicest people to hang out with.

        • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:43PM (#34182326) Homepage
          No, I'm not. I don't want their money. I don't want their power. I don't want their problems. I certainly don't want their personalities. I think it's very sad to characterize success by money. And I'd rather be a person who my friends would like to hang out with rather than someone who created a business entity that brings in a lot of pieces of green paper. As for your statement that they have had "more influence" on my life than just about anybody else that's just absurd.
          • made. That is a side effect of creating a great business. All three created. Better yet, they created something that other people wanted. They influence millions through their work and some of them through their charity (see Gates, not so much the other two). To say they did not have influence in your life is absurd. Granted it is not on the level of your parents but all three influenced industry. All three pushed forward this business many of us work in.

            I would be that many of their problems are not

          • In principle I'd like to agree, but a "business entity that brings in a lot of pieces of green paper" means many thousands of people have jobs, feed their families, get to live in nice homes, have nice things, etc. All because of just one of these co's.

            Businesses are not evil. Some people are.

            • by nomadic ( 141991 )
              The implication being that without them those people would all be out of jobs, which just isn't the case. It's like an ER doctor saying that if it wasn't for him, all these people would die, with the implication that if the hospital hadn't hired him they wouldn't have hired anybody else either and the ER would be unmanned during his shift.
        • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:44PM (#34182342)

          The subtext of your post there is that they should be worshipped and revered as a result. Despite behaving like sociopaths, despite (in the case of MS) anti-competitive, harmful actions, despite wasting a hell of a lot of taxpayer cash in the courtroom, despite being involved in the dirty and broken aspects of western democracy....

          Yeah, I'd love to have all that money, but it's true that I don't have the instinct to fuck everyone else over to get there. I don't think that's a personality type that the rest of us should aspire to, let alone worship.

        • Do you know what sycophant means? It's just funny that parent post specifically mentions that as being one of the downsides of being wealthy, then you immediately play to type.
        • Just looking at Bill Gates: he was born in a rich, well-connected family. His grand father was a national bank president, his father a prominent lawyer, his mother was on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. He went to an expensive prep school and from there to Harvard. His mother probably had a lot to do with the fact that his company got that contract with IBM. []

          He really had every advantage in life. This doesn't mean his accomplishments aren't real, but saying he cre

      • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) * <> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:45PM (#34182706) Homepage Journal

        I've actually talked to the man on a few occasions - right time and right place for a 5'th level peasant in my case. The bit that most of this thread seems to miss is this guy *really* understands the technical details as well as the business end. If you ask why, he can and does answer. He will also make a decision - unlike many management of (former, now acquired) companies and even change course when something does not pan out. His play style, in the business world, reminds me of the Adaptive AI in SupCom:FA.

        Honestly, he seemed human.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by treeves ( 963993 )

        What does it mean to be miserable without even realizing it? Is that even possible? Insufferable perhaps, but how can there be misery without awareness?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mazzie ( 672533 )
        Nobody has ever lay on their death bed and uttered with their final breath, "I wish I had more money."
    • by countSudoku() ( 1047544 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:51PM (#34181170) Homepage

      Yes, and they try and fill it up with Japanese Zen gardens and big yachts. No amount of money can make you happy, it takes an ability to work with others and a comfort in one's abilities and successes, however small. Larry is like a really loud and obnoxious Richard "Beardy" Branson, only without any charisma, or charm, or wit, or courage, or sense of adventure, or fair play. Yes, nothing at all like Beardy Branson. Larry is just a really amazing, rich, successful, single-minded, asshole. :) And that's being kind. Solaris has paid my way thus far, and now I go on without Oracle. I'm much better off for it. It's motivate me to learn real computer languages like Perl and C. Glad I skipped Java, as that looks and sounds and smells like a big chunk of Oracle shit to me now. Being closed has many disadvantages. Not the least of which is their lack of goodwill. This will bite them in the ass in good time. Meanwhile... Linux, Perl, VMware awaits. But, if you have the $$ and the Oracle wares at your shop, I'll be glad to work them for you for a much heftier price... yes, suddenly working in an Oracle shop just got way fucking expensive... for them. Oracle, just pay my way and then get the fuck out of my way. I've got no time for lucky CEOs and their wacky horseshit behaviour.

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      If they survive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus ( 253617 )

      Agreed. We need fewer of these people on the planet. I can't tell if this is legal game playing or if this is just someone's interpretation of the events. But one thing for sure, this isn't "business." And Oracle is turning into quite a monster. I am sad to say that we will soon have their product in my IT shop soon. After seeing much of this going on, I would rather see MS SQL server installed.

  • Avoid Oracle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:41PM (#34181100)
    Oracle seems to be an EXTREMELY abusive company.

    Let's route around it. One way: Use PostgreSQL.

    Some billionaires only care about being able to abuse people.
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:58PM (#34181690) Homepage Journal

      I would recommend Ingres (which is GPL) for the Data Warehouse environments, PostgreSQL for the mid-sized relational databases and Drizzle for the small-scale systems. (DO NOT support MySql as it is now an Oracle product -- support one of the official forks.)

      Likewise, I would recommend using Libre Office (as soon as it hits a major release) over and above Oracle's OpenOffice.

      For Java, I would recommend using IBM's JVM where possible (it's largely Oracle's but getting it from IBM will still kick dirt in Oracle's eyes). Where you're running a standalone Java application that can be compiled using GCJ, eliminate the JVM entirely and go native.

  • Sybase (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have no clue if this is important in this discussion, but SAP acquired Sybase [] earlier this year.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )

      Oh, it quite likely is. Oracle doesn't like competition, and for SAP to have a database they can now tune to their products --- that's not something that will sit at all well with Oracle.

  • The real question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cosm ( 1072588 ) <> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:47PM (#34181152)
    Will Ellison's douchemonkeyness detriment the people? The community? If his fights are just and his gains are pure and the losses he causes others to incur do not get passed onto the populace, cool. Otherwise, I don't think they're going to have too many friends after the dust settles.
  • By what measure?

    Sounds wrong to me and I cant find a measure by which they would be the largest, but maybe there is one.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Only one I see is Fortune 500 rank, which is probably the sketchiest measure of all. Largely, how much revenue they recently moved without regard for customer base or profits.

      If going by $ profit, they trail companies including IBM.
      If going by profit margin, obviously by above they lose to everyone they lose to above.
      If going by market cap, they lose to IBM and Apple at least.

      Apple or IBM depending on your opinion probably fairly could claim it.

      I don't know about employee count, reliable public numbers are

  • To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

  • Firing Hurd was one thing, but hiring Apothekar was a total disastrous. In connection to this, Jack Welsh mentioned that he wouldn't admit knowing anyone in HP board even if knew anyone. These are rather strong words coming from a neutral person who was declared manager of the century in 1999. HP was fully aware of SAP-Oracle lawsuit going on and also of the fact that SAP had accepted the blame and Apothekar was the CEO at the time TomorrowNow was stealing. HP got what it deserved or wanted.
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:15PM (#34181814) Homepage Journal

      I dunno. Think about this. If HP's CEO "happens" to end up in a country with no corporate tax, the company can move its "official" HQ there. Instant tax haven - and one that any revision of tax laws couldn't do much about because it would involve the CEO and not just some unused office with only a janitor in it.

  • What database does slashdot run on, by the way?
    • On /., asking how to find info ( on a website; "Brillant" [sic]. Their current user docs list mysql, but it's dated 2000.

      Oh, and while I'm at it, that jerk who posted a complete ripoff of a BOFH [] article on with no attribution ought to be strung up by his earbeads (in comments on "Toy Robots Can Guard Your Home"; I was moderating so couldn't complain inthread).

      Sigh, fsck. Carry on you shallow posters.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft SQL Server?

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:01PM (#34181260) Journal

    These companies are situated in the center of one of the largest changes in human history. Computers and software applications have enabled numerous advances in civilization and benefitted society in countless ways. Despite all the good that has come from computers, it seems like without exception, every single large computer company is lead by a bunch of douche bags who apparently have little concern for anything beyond themselves and their vision of how they want things to be.

    • by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:16PM (#34181366)

      Yeah, because software that is designed by an unfocused group people with no direction is sooooooo useful.

    • by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:17PM (#34181382)
      every single large is lead by a bunch of douche bags

      Do you think the Roman empire grew to its size by being nice? Every group in history that gains considerable power is led by power-hungry people. Luckily for our species, most people are content with being in love, raising a family, and enjoying life with friends and loved ones.

      A few individuals are cursed with a "vision", and have an overwhelming desire to force other people to play along. I'd wager they are extremely dissatisfied with life, despite their massive wealth and power.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Trintech ( 1137007 )

        Do you think the Roman empire grew to its size by being nice?

        No, I wouldn't say they were necessarily nice but one of the major reasons the Romans succeeded in creating such a vast empire was because they absorbed the culture of the people that they were conquering. This made the transition easier and made revolt far less likely because, in general, people don't care what ruler they are paying tribute (taxes) to; they only care if the amount goes up or it changes how they live their lives.

        I think Oracle et al. could learn a lot from the Roman approach.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          If by absorbing you mean killing one third, enslaving another third, leaving the last third of the population shiver in fear, then yes, the Romans did absorb the culture of people they were conquering (Gaul).

          I'm not sure what kind of fairy tails you've been reading, but the Romans were the most ruthless culture of their age. By looking at the remains of Sun, yes, we can say Oracle has learned from the Roman approach.

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:02PM (#34181270) Homepage

    Rustling up a quick summary here for anyone looking for background:,_USA) []

  • Why would anyone want Peoplesoft?

    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      They were a competitor, an obstacle to be removed. That's why.

    • Re:Peoplesoft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:07PM (#34181748) Homepage Journal

      Easy. If Oracle owns all the names that the Pointy-Hair Bosses know about, Oracle rules the people with the money. Those who actually use the product? They have no say. Neither do any of the technical folk. So why would Oracle care about them?

      However, it is a dangerous game to play. IBM tried the same trick in the 1970s and 80s. It nearly destroyed them when the playing-field shifted away from mainframes. It did destroy companies like Prime. Acorn tried the same stunt in the microcomputer field. They lasted a bit longer than the giants, but they're now only producing televisions, their PC division abandoned in the dirt.

      Oracle will, eventually, fall the same way if they rely on destroying competition and propping up their brand name with buy-outs. The question is how much damage they will inflict on the markets in the meantime.

      • I thought Acorn did rather well.
        They developed a CPU for their Archimedes PC and then licensed the design to everyone who wanted it.
        Even Intel license Acorns CPU design they did that well.

        Your iPod as a little tiny Acorn CPU inside it.

        ARM - originally stood for Acorn Risc Machine []

        • by jd ( 1658 )

          They did brilliantly for a while - but at some point they stagnated and abandoned ARM, followed by the Acorn PC (which was never finished).

          RiscOS was infinitely superior to any other GUI of the time, but failed to keep pace. For whatever reason, Acorn became too insular.

          When they did finally abandon their entire IT division, a breakaway group tried to continue to develop the Acorn PC. I don't know what happened there, but suspect Acorn got stubborn, given the press releases of the time from them.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:06PM (#34181296)

    "SAP has offered to pay $40 million for the damage it caused and an additional $120 million to cover Oracle's legal bill."

    But who pays the salary of the judge and other court personnel? The courthouse building isn't free and neither are its utilities. This can't be cheap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iammani ( 1392285 )

      Duh, they (both parties) of course paid court fees.

  • Knitting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CaroKann ( 795685 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:26PM (#34181888)
    All HP has to do is focus on their knitting. Make great products and take great care of your customers. You don't need lots of sound-and-fury drama to be a great company
  • by twoears ( 1514043 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:35PM (#34181950)
    Larry Ellison is becoming more of a software terrorist every day.
  • by Chitlenz ( 184283 ) <chitlenz.chitlenz@com> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:36PM (#34181960) Homepage

    I was a DBA forever, and while I loved the 10 or so years I spent supporting Oracle I noted that consultants (for what its worth) seemed to uniformly hate the place (a note, I supported Peoplesoft Installations for awhile and we saw a lot of consultants come through from Oracle among other places..).

    It's really a shame, but when 9 came out and Oracle co-opted java for the first time, they screwed it up and it hasn't really gotten any better since. I think a big reason for this is that the office culture of the place is a reflection of Ellison's arrogance, which is somewhat demotivating (even if only privately) to the people who work there, and their products suffer. So here we are with Oracle now owning java and, surprise surprise, Ellison is out to monetize it. Folks, that's what he does. There's a reason he's one of the richest men alive, he finds choke points in the software market and either buys or kills (and replaces) them.

    He reminds me of the Wall Street people who see no moral issues with destroying everything in their path to turn a profit. It's sick, it's wrong, and this is America where for better or worse its legal. Ultimately, these super-arrogant folks will be the death of software as an industry because they simply have no concept of 'enough'. One guy told us (unconfirmed personally, but I have no reason to doubt it) that at Oracle, if you weren't in a position to replace your boss after the first year, your career there was basically over. Ellison calls this 'samurai management' or some such nonsense, but I call it bad business. It's this kind of crap that leads to workplace incivility, and this grudge-holding shit Emperor Larry is famous for is plain old simple hubris. It's ok though, he's getting too old to do it for much longer, and Oracle is rapidly becoming a product worth 1k$ instead of 100k$ per installation. Not that he'll ever be poor, but boy wouldn't it be fun to watch him be humbled.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      One guy told us (unconfirmed personally, but I have no reason to doubt it) that at Oracle, if you weren't in a position to replace your boss after the first year, your career there was basically over. Ellison calls this 'samurai management' or some such nonsense, but I call it bad business.

      I'd call it "Sith Management".

    • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

      So here we are with Oracle now owning java and, surprise surprise, Ellison is out to monetize it.

      Jrockit has existed for years, since they acquired BEA.

  • Ellison demonstrated the love of combat and confrontation ...

    ... Larry could just be a dick.

  • Ellison is an asshole, and Apothecker/HP are sissies.

    What I really don't understand is if you're running a a database company, do you really want to trumpet how lousy your internal security is in federal court?

    • It wasn't lousy internal security, it was a company violating all terms on a server which is open to the public, which also got its customers to act illegally for it, scraping the content servers for documents, patches and updates which they would then diff and repackage as their own updates. And SAP knew that's what TomorrowNow was doing when they bought them.

      The difference between what TomorrowNow did with Siebel software and what Larry did with Red Hat Linux is that RHEL is open; Siebel doesn't have a

  • "Chris O'Brien writes in the Merucry News"...

    I see Taco is keeping his usual high editorial standards.

    After all these years he still can't spellcheck? Christ, in my browser it's underlined in red.

  • And nobody gave it to Mr. Ellison. He did what he felt he had to do and still does. I doubt if any other way would have yielded better results.
  • would say: "Wow, Larry Ellison is a real a-hole".

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein