PeopleSoft 'victory' parade hits Germany

PeopleSoft's senior executives hit Germany for the CeBit and Etre trade shows this week in a visit that rapidly seemed to turn into a form of victory parade over Oracle.

"I'm deep within enemy territory, SAP territory, but I feel safer here than in California, within a few miles of Larry Ellison," laughed PeopleSoft Chief Executive Craig Conway.

He took time out to attack Oracle, his former employer and the hostile takeover bid launched for PeopleSoft last year and currently the subject of a trial involving the US Justice Department.

Using words that reflect the personal emnity that has run through the entire takeover bid period, Conway said: "Oracle was founded by Larry Ellison, PeopleSoft by David Duffield. These individuals are at opposite ends of the spectrum."

He added: "I had no reason to talk to Ellison after I left Oracle. I have no feelings. Someone who said they will discontinue your product and make customers implement new products and fire all your employees to get your blood warm. I felt Larry Ellison was trying to get in the way of something that was enormously beneficial for Oracle.

"Peoplesoft got some brand awareness out of Oracle’s offer and Oracle’s brand name got damaged. You can’t propose to do something harmful to CIOs and then turn up to customers and say want to buy more databases?"

He repeated the Justice Department's conclusion that an Oracle takeover of PeopleSoft would reduce customer choice. "The largest organisations only have three choices: SAP, PeopleSoft or Oracle.," he said. "It is better to have a choice, no matter what Larry Ellison believes. It's better to have three suppliers than two," Conway said.

But later he said: "We’re the largest software enterprise in the US and a very strong supplier in Europe. We’re the strong logcal challenger to SAP, most companies that are SAP customers use Peoplesoft for something. Societe General, big SAP customer runs Peoplesoft. This is a two horse race".

Conway argued however that it was not case that companies had to choose between SAP and PeopleSoft, but that the two could happily co-exist. "The message is not that it is one or the other,' he said. "It's just like most commercial airlines choose to use both Boeing and Airbus aircraft."

But he couldn't resist another rattle of the sabre. "In Germany the assumption is that SAP is the dominant provider and will never be caught.," he mused. "The assumption (also) was that no one would ever be able to catch up with Boeing. But last year Airbus did.

SAP isn’t such a large target as people see it in Europe. The value of the JD acquisition is showing in the results we’re already seeing. SAP is not the dominant company in the mid enterprise, mid market companies. With the acquisition of JD Edwards that’s an important part of our strategy to becoming the leading enterprise software company in the world".

PeopleSoft chief technology officer Rick Bergquist managed to put an even more positive spin on recent events arguing that the Oracle bid had actually been good for PeopleSoft.

"One of the big things is a lot of companies, especially over here, had never heard of us before," he said, arguing that the company's market research indicated that the company had been best known only as an HR software firm. "Now, anyone who reads a newspaper has heard of us. Now, people see us as the developer of this hot technology that's more flexible [than competitors' software], and Oracle wants this. It's given more people a chance to see our wares."

Meanwhile back in California the Department of Defense and rival software vendors tried to block docuements being submitted to the court as part of Oracle's case against the Justice Department.

The U.S. Department of Defense and several IT companies supporting the Justice Department's lawsuit against Oracle (Quote, Chart) to block its purchase of PeopleSoft have asked a federal judge this week to shelter their inside trade secrets. Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled last week that Oracle's in-house attorneys should be granted access to "all" testimony submitted by the Justice Department.

In court papers filed Monday, the DOD said it has "competitively sensitive information" that could give Oracle "an unfair advantage during the competitive procurement process or contract negotiations." This is believed to be related to contract terms and pricing.

Microsoft, SAP and vendors such as Lawson Software also asked the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to block certain parts of their business technology and best practices from being entered as evidence so as not to reveal trade and business practices. Part of the Justice Department's case is that Oracle discounted prices to block competition from rivals.

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