Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Heightened Attacks On HP Doom Alliance
With a fresh round of pointed barbs at new HP CEO Leo Apotheker, Larry Ellison shows that Oracle's reclassifying HP from ally to enemy.
The HP Board: In the past two months, the board has taken on the additional role of Ellison's personal stable of on-demand whipping boys as he's assailed them for everything from awful judgment to a lack of financial commitment to HP to incompetence and beyond. Maybe all of the board members have merely deflected those scathing attacks and paid them no mind—but I doubt that. Their choice of Apotheker simply cannot be assessed in any way other than being a direct—and personal—counterthrust at Ellison and Oracle. The HP board is placing what I believe is an extremely risky bet that Apotheker, whose tenure as CEO of SAP can't possibly be regarded as successful by any objective measure, has the leadership and vision and discipline to not only guide the world's largest IT company during a time of enormous internal and external change but that he'll also be able to do so while competing more aggressively and more directly and for larger and larger stakes with, separately, IBM and Oracle—two companies that have already completed extensive internal transformations and are blessed with CEOs and top-level management teams that are deep, committed, focused, and proven.
Mark Hurd: As with the HP board, it's almost impossible to imagine that Hurd has been able to traverse the past couple of months without bringing to bear a vast reservoir of personal feelings—primarily animosity toward HP, the company that deposed him for what many believe were shoddy and unconvincing reasons. By joining Oracle and by taking a #2 or #2A role after being #1 for so long, Hurd is clearly looking for some opportunities to rip market share away from not only IBM but also HP, whose sheer mass--$130 billion in annual revenue—marks it as the biggest target in the market. Anyone who believes that business isn't personal doesn't understand business—and in the case of the very talented Mark Hurd, I think he's going to make his work with regard to competing with HP very, very personal.
Leo Apotheker: Maybe HP's new CEO sees all the media and analyst commentary about him—that he was an uninspired choice, or unproven, or unsuitable, or just plain wrong for the job—and maybe he just shrugs his shoulders without even letting the criticism register. Maybe Apotheker couldn't care less that Larry Ellison says he was rendered "speechless" by HP's decision to hire him, and that Ellison calls him a failure. Or maybe HP's new CEO will blend into his thinking the idea that if it's a fight Ellison wants, then it's a fight Ellison will get, and may the best company win, and that in such a scrap there's no room for this "partnership" hooey.
Larry Ellison: I have said before that nothing Larry Ellison does is by coincidence. After the first round of disagreements and name-calling with HP, I think he was at least willing to bury that hatchet and resume what had been a productive quarter-century partnership. But the Apotheker hire will lead to the breakup of that long-term alliance because Ellison cannot help but take that decision by the HP board—whose widescale resignations Ellison has called for—as an unmistakable declaration of war: for systems, for software, for cloud computing, and for the hearts and wallets of CIOs looking for big, powerful, and brilliant IT partners on whom to bet tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and the future health of those customers' companies.
Bill McDermott: As SAP's current co-CEO said in his upbeat message of congratulations about HP's hiring of Apotheker, "this move only sets the stage for an even deeper relationship between our two companies." As SAP and IBM begin to compete more aggressively in fields such as analytics, it will be difficult for them to retain the depth and richness of their own long-standing relationship and that would make it quite convenient for HP and SAP to begin figuring out new ways to make lots more beautiful music together.