Oracle V. SAP: Courtroom Diary

The big dogs haven't howled, but there's been plenty of yapping and leg-lifting. Here are a few highlights and lowlights from the Oracle-SAP trial after two days.

What hasn't been said. What hasn't been said rings almost as loudly as what has. Why, for example, did TomorrowNow have to create Titan, and why did it have to download 9 million files when it had a mere handful of customers? Did it really think it would be servicing 5,000 PeopleSoft customers under SAP's blind eye?

I didn't attend jury selection Monday, but other journalists told me that the judge informed Oracle that it couldn't use the word "Steal." That'll cut what Ellison has to say at the trial in half. Thankfully, the other half ("liar") is still OK. One perspective jury member said she wouldn't be a good selection because the case sounded like it was all just about greed. Welcome to America, honey.

Oracle also hasn't said how much it wants. Lots of numbers get thrown around, and we are going to hear from the accountants at the end of the trial. That means the rest of this is all wind-up before a couple of guys with calculators sit down and do some math for us. Then the jury will pick a number somewhere in between. But Oracle keeps upping the number. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer said that TomorrowNow's Titan compromised the support system Oracle used to gauge its effectiveness. It "corrupted our ability to use this information to help us," she said. Cha-ching.

The mailbag. There's something voyeuristic about reading someone else's e-mail, especially when it's from the executives of the largest software companies in the world.

• In one e-mail from Oracle's former co-President Charles Phillips, he writes to Larry Ellison: "I know you've spoken with the CEO of Amgen, but the CIO and #2 aren't big fans of ours, so I'm working it from this end. We also bungled the demo last month." Turns out Amgen doesn't like Ellison. Maybe they should let Phillips' replacement, former HP CEO Mark Hurd, demo the Oracle expense application next time.

• SAP exec Shai Agassi sent a message saying that the press release concerning the company's acquisition of TomorrowNow would be the "cheapest advertising we ever got and Oracle's share price will probably go down 10 percent." He probably wasn't banking on a lawsuit that would drag out for three years.

• Then SAP executive and board member Leo Apotheker, angry about a deal the company lost to Oracle (the acquisition of Retek), said in a memo: "I'm pissed. We need to inflict some pain on Oracle." He went on to instruct his team to close any deal in the coming days at "extraordinary conditions," meaning whatever it takes.

• Damning evidence: The SAP board hired former PeopleSoft employee John Zepecki to help it examine TomorrowNow in 2004. Zepecki, who is expected to testify this week, told the SAP board that "Past operating issues may be a serious liability if Oracle challenges."

• Reading private IMs is the only thing better than private e-mails. Here's a crucial one between TomorrowNow employees allegedly involved in the copyright infringement. Kim Martinez: "what are they saying in a nutshell." Kristin Paige: "that we illegally downloaded their stuff . . . used false information and customer id/pw to get it." Kim Martinez: "well, that's true. wonder who on the inside told." Kristin Paige: "i think they caught us."


Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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