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McNealy And Ellison Sail The High Seas

Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy teamed up with Oracle chairman Larry Ellison for a bit of comic relief on stage at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy teamed up with Oracle chairman Larry Ellison on stage Monday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where both employed a bantering humor as part of Sun's low-cost computing announcement.

Was it scripted, or did McNealy just naturally play straight man to Ellison's quick wit?

As Ellison joined him on stage, McNealy emphasized that Sun and Oracle have long had a strong relationship--many early Oracle databases ran on Solaris servers--and he stressed their growing closeness. Ellison had given him the keys to his personal yacht, he said, "which is really something," while he offered Ellison his condo in Florida. He'd used the keys to the yacht, but Ellison hadn't yet taken him up on his condo offer.

That's when the Oracle chairman started to leave the stage, saying he needed to depart early in order to "change the locks on my boat."

During the press conference, McNealy said Sun wants a piece of the Intel-powered, low-end server market rather than sticking exclusively with its core Sparc/Solaris server architecture. He acknowledged that many businesses are turning to racks of thin Intel servers and tried to reinforce his own new low-cost consciousness with a barb at modern art. The pictures on the walls "look like the stuff my little boys put on the refrigerator. If you're looking for modern art, I've got some lower-priced selections," he said.

After listening for several minutes while McNealy explained how Sun was about to undersell Dell Computer, Ellison managed to turn the discussion back to his yacht. McNealy asked Ellison if he was the party "that's rumored to be taking us over," referring to a story in The San Francisco Chronicle that noted unnamed buyers were driving up the price of Sun's stock in what could be a possible pre-acquisition move.

Ellison paused a beat, as if pondering the possibility, then said, "I'd do anything to get my boat back."