Oracle saga is over, says PeopleSoft's Conway

PeopleSoft chief executive officer Craig Conway has addressed the issue of Oracle's continuing efforts to acquire his company at...

PeopleSoft chief executive officer Craig Conway has addressed the issue of Oracle's continuing efforts to acquire his company at PeopleSoft's Connect user conference.

An opening video summarised PeopleSoft news highlights, including Conway's soundbite that Oracle's bid is like someone asking to buy your dog so he can take it out and shoot it, and Oracle chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison's reply, that if he had a gun and a bullet, he would not be aiming for Conway's dog.

"Have you noticed how often Larry Ellison changes his mind?" Conway said. "First, they're going to cancel all our products, then they're not. Then they're going to fire all our employees, then they're not. He's going to shoot the dog, then he's going to shoot me. So, Abbey and I have decided not to take any chances," he said, indicating his bulletproof vest and the black Labrador's matching one.

Conway focused on a discussion of PeopleSoft's recent accomplishments and plans for integrating JD Edwards, but he returned to the subject of Oracle. He claimed Oracle's real goal is not to buy PeopleSoft but to disrupt it, a tactic that has not worked thanks to the eagerness of PeopleSoft's customers to rally to the company's defence.

"Oracle failed in its approach because of you," Conway said. "The saga is over."

Oracle said last week it remains committed to its $7.3bn tender offer to PeopleSoft's shareholders to acquire the company. The proposed deal is under review by regulatory bodies in the US and Europe, a process Oracle says it expects to conclude in November.

Conway also announced extensions to PeopleSoft's customer support policy. Customers paying maintenance fees will now have at no additional cost, access to upgrade scripts easing migration to PeopleSoft's most recent release for five years, rather than four, and will receive updates covering tax and regulatory changes for six years.

One attendee said the announcement of the support changes is welcome news.

"Whenever they extend the support for nothing, you've got to like that," said Mike Rothgery, a senior manager of human resources applications for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

But the real highlight of the keynote was Conway's discussion of the Oracle bid, Rothgery said. Cap Gemini isn't "in a climate of fear" over the prospect of Oracle taking over PeopleSoft, but it has watched the unfolding drama with trepidation, he added.

US Department of Defence human resources officer Rose Patten said she came to the keynote primarily to hear Conway's thoughts on the status of the Oracle bid.

"Like everyone else, I wanted to hear what he would say," she said. "It seemed like he's pretty assured. He knows what direction he wants the company to go."

Stacey Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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