The battle between Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison takes a surprising and interesting turn.
The competitive battle between Larry Ellison, who runs Oracle, and Marc Benioff, leader supreme of Salesforce.com, is a well-worn story. Both companies have achieved wild success and earned their respective founders a fortune.
The success of these two leaders has not lessened the intensity of their professional rivalry, which became glaringly obvious this past week. With only meager explanation, Oracle summarily terminated Benioff’s planned session at OpenWorld, an opportunity for which Salesforce.com had paid a cool one million dollars.
Here is the exact text of the cancellation email that Oracle sent to Salesforce. When Salesforce replied, the company received an automatically generated message saying someone from Oracle would respond within two days:
From: Oracle Content Team [comments finally got under Oracle’s skin, leaving the company with two choices: let the games proceed or squash the competition.
Despite making what most observers consider the wrong choice, Ellison may well have the last laugh on this episode. At the replacement speech, which through massive logistics Salesforce hastily moved to a hotel opposite OpenWorld, Benioff announced he wouldn’t speak at next year’s Oracle conference. An interesting preemptive strike since Benioff knows that Oracle will probably not extend that speaking opportunity again.
In the end, however, Ellison unwittingly turned Benioff into a martyr of sorts, bringing a ton of public relations attention to Salesforce. In this particular game of chess, Benioff walked away victorious.
Check out my IT Project Failures blog for more discussion of enterprise software, Oracle, Salesforce, and other fun topics!
Image from iStockphoto. Disclosure: Oracle paid my out-of-pocket travel expenses to OpenWorld.
- Ellison-Benioff rift deepens over canceled keynote (cbsnews.com)
- Clash of the Software Titans (fool.com)
- After A Big Public Fight With Salesforce, Larry Ellison Went And Unveiled A Direct Competitor (ORCL, CRM) (businessinsider.com)
- Benioff unplugged: Salesforce.com chief says CEOs who don’t change will face a Corporate Spring (video) (venturebeat.com)
(Cross-posted @ Between the Lines Blog RSS | ZDNet)