Second is usually not good enough for Larry Ellison, but Oracle is still celebrating a runner-up spot today. Read more

Richard Waters

Wednesday will be a big day in the life of Lawrence J Ellison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle, multi-billionaire, defending champion of the America’s Cup and head of Oracle Team USA.

It will also present an interesting test of where his true allegiances lie. As the boat he bankrolled with tens of millions of dollars faces defeat, will he choose to front Oracle’s quarterly earnings call or be out on San Francisco bay? Read more

Richard Waters

You have to hand it to Oracle, it never misses a chance to humiliate its rivals in public.

On Wednesday it was the turn of Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy. His provocation? To have publicly denied that he tried to “shop” his company to Oracle before eventually selling to Hewlett-Packard. (This has now turned into a “he said, she said” – see updates, below) Read more

Joseph Menn

In the latest salvo in a continuing battle between former allies, Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday filed suit against Oracle over the latter’s announced refusal in March to keep making new versions of its database software for HP servers based on the Itanium chip. But it is hard to know whether the case has much hope. Read more

Joseph Menn

An unscientific survey of employees at major US technology companies found that only 50 per cent of Yahoo workers approved of chief executive Carol Bartz’ leadership during the past year, down from 77 per cent as she got started. Read more

Chris Nuttall

File this one under “Oracle takes another dig at HP” or “Oracle kicks Intel when it’s already down”. In a statement overnight, the database company said it had decided to stop all software development for the Intel Itanium microprocessor, where HP is one of the few server makers still supporting the chip. Read more

In today’s FT Comment, John Gapper gives his opinion on Larry Ellison’s recent “policing” of Silicon Valley.

Gapper writes: Read more

Richard Waters

Pulses quickened in a Federal courtroom in Oakland, California on Tuesday when a lawyer for Oracle promised jurors in the Oracle v SAP trial that they would get to hear evidence from Léo Apotheker, now the boss of HP.

So does that mean Mr Apotheker has accepted the challenge thrown down last week by Larry Ellison, his counterpart at Oracle, to turn up and face the music? It sounded as though Mr Ellison’s taunt, about how the HP CEO might choose to stay “far, far away” from the courtroom, had paid off.

Alas, it turns out that a showdown is still not guaranteed. Read more

Richard Waters

Is SAP about to take the same sort of battering in the press from Oracle that has made HP’s board quail recently? Not if it can help it.

Late on Friday, SAP asked a Californian court to put a gag order on Oracle’s legal counsel ahead of the scheduled November 1 start of the trial to decide damages in the TomorrowNow case. But even if it can silence Oracle’s lawyers, SAP probably has a bigger problem on its hands: Larry Ellison, who shows no inclination to hold back in public. Read more

Richard Waters

Five months after its acquisition by Oracle, the axe continues to fall on employees at Sun Microsystems.

This is what CEO Larry Ellison had to say in January:

The truth is we’re actually hiring 2,000 people over the next few months to beef up these businesses, and that’s about twice as many people as we’ll be laying off.

Late on Friday, though, Oracle said it would add massively to the $325m of restructuring costs it had projected from the Sun integration. There will be an additional $675-825m of charges, with around 80 per cent of that apparently earmarked for employee severance costs. Read more

David Gelles

The FT’s editorial page takes issue with the EU Commission’s involvement in the Oracle / Sun deal:

The mere possibility that a $7.4bn technology merger in California might be blocked by regulators nearly half the world away over a fly-speck of a business shows how odd the dispute over Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems has become.

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Richard Waters

Despite signs that the over-heated rhetoric is cooling down a bit, it’s too soon to predict a compromise in the transatlantic falling-out over Oracle’s plan to buy Sun.

European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes was more measured in her comments to reporters on Wednesday, suggesting that some sort of agreement might be possible that would protect competition in the database market and allow the dispute to blow over. That certainly sounded less punchy than her own spokesman’s attack on Oracle earlier in the week as “facile and superficial”. Read more

Richard Waters

Things at Sun Microsystems do not seem to be quite as bad as Larry Ellison has been suggesting.

The Oracle boss said in late September that Sun was losing $100m a month as European regulators put its $7.4bn acquisition on hold. Then, a month later, Sun announced plans to sack 3,000 workers – a move that was widely seen as having been caused by the European delay.

The latest quarterly figures from Sun, filed with the SEC on Friday, paint a slightly different picture. Read more

Richard Waters

When it comes to deal-making, predicting what Larry Ellison will do next is never easy – which is just the way he wants it.

So what to make of the fact that Mr Ellison’s pursuit of Sun Microsystems has now reached a point few expected, with the European Commission close to drawing a line in the sand with a formal objection to the deal?

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Brussels will act to block it. But it does show that things have reached an impasse in Brussels, which at the very least means a longer delay – with further detrimental effects to Sun’s business.

Assuming neither side balks before the EC issues its objection, Mr Ellison now appears to have a number of options. Read more

David Gelles

It is perhaps with good reason that Larry Ellison does not speak in public that often. Whenever he does, the famously bombastic Oracle chief executive seems certain to trash his rivals, make bold predictions about Oracle’s future, and wander off topic.

Last night at a meeting of the Churchill Club, Mr Ellison said that Sun Microsystems was losing $100m a month as European regulators scrutinise Oracle’s proposed takeover of the struggling hardware maker.

On the economy, Mr Ellison said it would be at least another five years before the US begins to recover. He said it would not be a V shaped recovery with a sharp rebound, or a W shaped recovery with a double dip, or a U shaped recovery with a pause before an uptick, but an L shaped recovery — “down and not coming back up.” Read more

Richard Waters

How could an open source software project that we hear generates a modest 17m euros a year in Europe have held up a $7.4bn tech industry mega-merger ?

Unlikely as it sounds, Brussels has put the Oracle/Sun deal on hold while it takes a longer look at the fate of tiny MySQL, which Gartner reckons has a database market share of around half a percentage point.

Clearly, somewhere along the line Oracle has played its cards very badly. Read more

Richard Waters

The US may have cleared Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, but there’s still a view among some people who have been close to this transaction that it won’t be the easy sell in Europe that Wall Street seems to assume.

According to this view, Oracle won’t get the same free pass to acquire Java that it got from the Department of Justice, but will be forced to accept some sort of undertaking to ensure that licensing of Java does not become overly restrictive. Given the central part Java has played in building a counter-weight to Microsoft in the software industry, it isn’t hard to see why European regulators might be interested. There have been rumblings that SAP has been lobbying hard with Brussels on this issue.

If so, then someone forgot to tell Hasso Plattner. The chairman of SAP’s supervisory board, and a co-founder of the company, Plattner was in Silicon Valley late this week, and I got the chance to ask him how he feels about Java passing to Oracle. Read more

  • A Tennessee hospital has confirmed it carried out a liver transplant on Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive.  The Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis said Mr Jobs was “the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available. Mr Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis.”
  • Intel and Nokia unveiled plans to work together to create a type of mobile computing device beyond today’s smartphones and netbooks. The move takes Intel a step further towards a breakthrough into the highly prized mobile phone market. Nokia typically works with potential suppliers on joint research for several years before deciding to adopt a particular technology.

 Read more

Richard Waters

At the official passing of the Java torch today, Larry Ellison couldn’t resist dangling the suggestion that Oracle is getting ready to launch some sort of new client software platform to rival Google’s Android and – an unspoken challenge – Microsoft.

The Oracle boss was on stage with Scott McNealy at the annual JavaOne event in San Francisco, in what looked like a symbolic ceding of Sun’s leadership of Java after nearly two decades. Read more

Richard Waters

Speculation about a possible spin-off of Sun’s hardware business by Oracle may not be so wide of the mark after all. The reason: Oracle’s initial acquisition interest only extended to some of Sun’s software assets.

Also, HP spent months doing due diligence over a possible bid of its own but backed out at the last minute without ever submitting an offer, so there’s a chance of it emerging as a buyer should Oracle opt to shed any parts of Sun in future.

Those are some of the things to be gleaned from Sun’s detailed disclosure to the SEC today of the events leading up to its deal with Oracle (HP’s identity is not disclosed – it is mentioned in the filing only as “Party B”. But one person who had a ringside seat to the action has told us that HP was actively engaged for months, and that despite widespread speculation, Cisco never showed any serious interest.) Read more