Global CIO: Larry Ellison Puts HP In Crosshairs Via Slap At New CEO
Eleven days after HP and Oracle kiss and make up over Hurd's transfer, HP picks a former Oracle nemesis as CEO—and Ellison's 'speechless' reaction speaks volumes.
I think Apotheker's selection by HP's board is something quite different and signals HP's unmistakable intention to compete in enterprise software every bit as aggressively as Oracle has come to compete in hardware and systems via its acquisition of Sun.
I think that HP's very deliberate selection of an executive who's spent the last two decades at the world's largest supplier of enterprise applications is anything but a coincidence—quite the opposite. HP's board apparently feels it is essential to the company's long-term viability to move more aggressively into higher-value software and related fields, eventually shifting its revenue mix more aggressively away from hardware—much of it fairly commodity stuff in the form of mass-market servers and PCs.
I think HP's board is willing to bet that by redoubling its commitments to and relationship with SAP (and I'll share SAP's reactions to Apotheker's appointment in a moment), HP can thereby afford the risk of alienating Oracle, which it had to know Apotheker's selection would precipitate.
Contrast Ellison's comment about Apotheker with this statement I received from SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott:
"This is great news for HP and for SAP. SAP and HP are outstanding partners, HP is a great SAP customer, and this move only sets the stage for an even deeper relationship between our two companies. Leo understands our business model and how to fully advantage this partnership to help our joint customers be best-run businesses. I personally congratulate Leo on this tremendous appointment."
Very interesting, isn't it? While McDermott has spent the past 8 months total remaking the company that was in pretty bad shape when Apotheker was forced out in February, McDermott focuses on the future for HP and SAP by saying "this move only sets the stage for an even deeper relationship between our two companies."
I think we can count on a pretty quick and pretty decisive reaction from Oracle and that Ellison will ask newly named co-president Mark Hurd—the guy who spent the last five years running HP—to be the point person in developing the strategy that uncouples the Oracle-HP partnership and identifies new ways to fill the gap their inevitable separation will create.
They say that if you mess with the bull, you get the horns. And in hiring Leo Apotheker, Hewlett-Packard—just days after reaching a peace accord with Oracle—has commenced waving a very big and very red flag directly in Larry Ellison's face.