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New Competitor Springs Up As Oracle And Siebel Execs Join Hands On Stage

Startup will support Siebel applications for half the price Oracle will, founder claims.

A new competitor has sprung up to offer support to Siebel Systems Inc. customers before Oracle has even had a chance to complete its planned $5.85 billion Siebel acquisition.

Seth Ravin, co-founder and former president of TomorrowNow Inc., which offers lower priced, third-party support to PeopleSoft customers, has started a company that will provide technical support for Siebel customer-relationship-management applications. The company, Rimini Street Inc., is based in Las Vegas, but company officials are in San Francisco this week introducing themselves to Siebel customers in a hotel at the Embarcadero Center. Rimini Street was even providing transportation for any Siebel users attending Oracle OpenWorld at the Moscone Center who were interested in talking over their maintenance contracts.

Rimini Street will offer support to North American companies from a planned but still-to-be-opened administrative center in San Mateo, Calif., a short distance from Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, Ravin said in a statement announcing the start of the company, posted at .

Ravin said Rimini Street will offer maintenance contracts on Siebel applications at half the price of regular Oracle maintenance contracts. Software maintenance is typically an annual fee representing 18% to 22% of the application purchase price. Rimini Street "will reduce the frequency and cost of upgrades and meet the unique business needs of each client," Ravin said.

In another development, two Siebel executives shared the stage at Oracle OpenWorld Monday with Oracle President Charles Phillips in support of the merger. Siebel CEO George Shaheen and senior VP Bruce Cleveland said they expect Oracle to continue and expand Siebel's on-demand hosted application service. "We like to think we bring a lot to this dance," said Shaheen, citing Siebel's 4,000 CRM customers and revenue of $1.3 billion.

Phillips said Siebel's growing on-demand business and its CRM analytics software were both "hidden jewels we found inside of Siebel." And Siebel's CRM expertise will also be a valuable addition to Oracle. "The more smart people we have on CRM," Phillips said, "the better our product will be."

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