PeopleSoft Stays The Course

Even with Oracle free after a federal court decision to press on with its takeover bid, its quarry tends to its basic business aims.

Don St. John, Contributor

September 24, 2004

4 Min Read

If you're a business-school grad student studying the phenomenon of focus in a business's performance, PeopleSoft is the perfect case study for you. Even with Oracle free to continue the takeover challenge it's seemingly been mounting since early last century, PeopleSoft continues to calmly maintain its business aims, setting up a Web-services pact this week with IBM and announcing upgrades to human-resources and enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) packages. One might almost think that nobody was mounting a full-scale assault on the enterprise-applications maker and forcing it into courts all over the planet.

None of this means that PeopleSoft is out of the woods yet—or that it's stopped playing defense against Oracle's takeover bid, which cleared an antitrust hurdle in federal court two weeks ago. The firm continues to use various resources to fend off the proposed merger, such as a classic poison-pill stock defense and antitrust claims before the European Union, where, as the Microsoft antitrust case showed, the atmosphere toward large corporate consolidation and market power is quite different than it is in today's laissez-faire U.S. judiciary.

But even with the need to continue fending off Oracle's takeover, PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway insists that the company's primary goal is a focus on its customers and their needs. "Business as usual," was the way that PeopleSoft CTO Rick Bergquist put it. Even as PeopleSoft places its rooks and bishops all over the takeover board to fend off Oracle's attacks, it also recognizes that the enterprise-apps market still isn't the most robust tech sector out there today. Whether it survives the Oracle bid or is eventually subsumed, PeopleSoft officials still know that they have to maintain a viable business either way. And the company took pains at its Connect user conference, this week, to send that message.

Are there beneficiaries of PeopleSoft's spate of activity? Some. Its existing customer base certainly doesn't feel ignored. Middle-sized ERP companies also could see some market opportunity, especially if Oracle eventually wins its bid and leaves a gap where PeopleSoft has been using its J.D. Edwards acquisitions to broaden its customer base.

Even Larry Ellison and his company might benefit: As he continues to hunt the large white whale and Oracle's sales languish, its stock price remains inexplicably high, perhaps in the belief that he will finally harpoon his quarry someday.

PeopleSoft Moves Ahead, Unveiling Major IBM AllianceJoint work with IBM is part of strategy to deliver apps that let customers use Web services to build adaptable service-oriented architectures.

PeopleSoft Forges Ahead With Product Plans At the Connect conference, customers hear about the progress of PeopleSoft's Total Cost of Ownership initiative, as well as upgrades to its HR and J.D. Edwards' manufacturing software.

Oracle-PeopleSoft Antitrust Battle Shifts To EuropeThe focus of Oracle Corp.'s attempted takeover of PeopleSoft Inc. shifted to Europe, where the European Community's antitrust regulators prepared to restart the clock on its investigation into the hostile-acquisition bid.

Court Sides With Oracle In Antitrust TrialOracle still faces a possible EU antitrust challenge and PeopleSoft's poison-pill defense in its hostile takeover bid for its competitor.

Mid-Tier ERP Vendors Can Capitalize On Oracle Antitrust VerdictThe door is open for Oracle to win its bid for PeopleSoft and for mid-market ERP vendors to increase their business.

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