PeopleSoft chief defiant on takeover threat

With 15,000 people at PeopleSoft's Connect user show waiting to hear how the company would address Oracle's hostile takeover bid,...

With 15,000 people at PeopleSoft's Connect user show waiting to hear how the company would address Oracle's hostile takeover bid, PeopleSoft chief executive, Craig Conway, tackled the issue early in his keynote speech.

"Have you ever had a bad dream that wouldn't seem to end?" he asked, to applause, which turned to cheers when he ticked off all the obstacles that still block Oracle, and said the recent court decision dismissing attempts to kill the deal did not mean PeopleSoft would be acquired by Oracle.

Conway's brief reference to the takeover bid maintained the defiant tone PeopleSoft has struck throughout Oracle's 15-month campaign to win control of the company through an all-cash tender offer to PeopleSoft's shareholders.

"PeopleSoft has had a year that has tested our resolve. It has been a year that stretched our resources," Conway said. "But we didn't blink, and we're not going to blink."

Conway wove emotional appeals through an upbeat speech. He spent most of his address highlighting PeopleSoft's accomplishments in the past year.

He also spelled out details of the pact with IBM revealed this week - a sales and development alliance Conway called the deepest so far between the companies.

On competition he said IBM's rival WebSphere portfolio was "exponentially more mature, and already trusted" than SAP's NetWeaver middleware initiative.

One PeopleSoft customer, Agilent Technologies' Andy Nallappan, said he sees the IBM alliance as a good move on PeopleSoft's part and one that may create another obstacle for Oracle, as PeopleSoft extends its ties to one of Oracle's main rivals.

Agilent is an Oracle customer - its infrastructure beneath PeopleSoft is built on Oracle and Microsoft's Windows XP technology - but Nallappan said he still prefers to see PeopleSoft remain independent.

John Schenken wished for more discussion about Oracle. "It's so unclear what's really happening with the Oracle deal," he said.

Schenken, director of applications development for propane supplier Ferrellgas, said he is not worrying about Oracle. "Why worry about what you can't control?" he asked. 

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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