The Village View

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Larry to Harvard: Just kidding

Seems nothing's binding for Ellison without a court order.

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison won't fulfill a pledge to donate $100 million to Harvard University, having lost interest after Lawrence Summers resigned as president of the school, an Oracle spokesman said.

Word of Ellison's reversal on the Harvard pledge comes a day after he announced plans to give $100 million to the Ellison Medical Foundation, which will funnel the funds to ``appropriate charities.''
That donation is unrelated to Harvard, Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said yesterday. The foundation gift is tied to a San Mateo, California Superior Court settlement reached in November, requiring Ellison to give $100 million to charities and pay $22 million in attorneys' fees to settle a shareholder lawsuit.

It's interesting to compare the spokesman's comments yesterday with Ellison's remarks when he made the commitment:
Spokesman yesterday: ``There was never a formal agreement between Larry Summers and Larry Ellison.... It was a discussion.''
Ellison last year: “It’s absolutely going to happen...”

Kinda makes you wonder about this too:
The response from Larry Ellison at the time was that Oracle would support the products for as long as it made sense for customers to run them.

Is this a "formal agreement?"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Let's go USA

Very limited or no blog posts for the next two weeks as I'll be in Germany watching the World Cup. Have tickets to 5 games: all 3 US, Ecuador-Costa Rica and Argentina-Ivory Coast

Thursday, June 08, 2006

meebo and the h-1b

I blogged not too long ago about Microsoft, Intel and a few other big tech firms pushing Congress to up the number of H1-B visas issued annually. Microsoft's government affairs head honcho called it the software firm's "top legislative priority." Well it seems that it's not only the big boys that are frustrated by this inane policy.

Found this as I was logging in to my favorite "let's see what I can do that doesn't involve software strategy" activity:
the current immigration policies of the United States government are making it extremely difficult to build such a diverse team. This creates a situation in which the U.S. can be a less competitive and attractive environment in which to do business...The impact of this restrictive immigration policy on meebo is quite significant. Because part of the team might not be able to join us in California, we won’t be able to take advantage of having the whole team under one roof, and our productivity will take a hit. We will also have to spend thousands of extra dollars and days of extra time trying to figure out if there’s another way for them to work in the country.

So because of Congress mis-guided attempts to "protect American jobs" (namely their own by deceiving naive voters that they have the country's best interest in mind) meebo has a choice of 1) hiring the "next best" set of employees or 2) being sub-optimally efficient because of a geographically distribued team. Either way, it's gonna cost them more. I'd say write your congressman, but it seems they're busy.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 OEM thoughts

Those of you who regularly read my blog (and I mean both of you) know that I'm a fan of many things that does. As such, I found the announcement a few weeks ago of the OEM product to be very interesting. I've talked to several folks much more knowledgable than I over the last couple of weeks andI think the platform play is a great way of building a SFdC ecosystem. Smaller ISVs get access to what I understand is an easy to get going on platform and great online and community support (including a chief architect who answers developer questions posted to the forums). The documentation is also supposed to very good and I've heard as being called "easy to work with."

However, some limitations were pointed:

1. Limit of 50 custom objects and 5 custom tabs. The ISV can create up to 5 tabs of their own, but no more. This means that the user can't get extra functionality that needs another tab. For example, there is an expense tracker available in the AppExchange, but since it needs another tab and most ISVs use all 5 tabs, the user can't install it.

Limit of 5 tabs will drive user to SFdC CRM product. Long term this will mean a whole new market for SFdC, not for the vendors. Buyer may start with OEM product, but won't stay on it a long time because of tab limit. "Oh, I guess, I'll just buy Professional edition and pick up the ISV's(e.g., Remend) app in AppExchange." My understanding is that the ISV has greater revenue from the OEM product than the AppExchange addon.

2. Integration

Some of the pre-built connectors built to link SFdC to other applications (ERP etc) may not work with the OEM platform products. Missing hooks into some objects (contact, deal). Object is a record type

  • e.g., Any connector referring to the Opportunities tab will run into problems as this tab doesn't exist on the OEM platform product
3. If a vendor writes a "Native App," one built using the web builder and hosted by SFdC, there is currently no way of hiding the code. My understanding is that if an ISV wants to protect their code, they are are told they should develop a Client or Hybrid App (which store the app logic on the ISVs servers).

4. ISV selling app thru AppExchange has to handle billing on its own. For example, the link from AppExchange goes back to the ISV website for billing, authentication etc. AppStore is likely the way they are going to introduce billing into AppExchange.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oracle acquisition update

UPDATE: Seems I may oversimplified things regarding return to investors of the Demantra acquisition. Obviously, investing in different rounds and at different terms may lead to differing returns. I found this breakdown of returns this morning:
Advent invested $15 million and will receive $24 million, while Formula Ventures invested $6 million and will receive $9 million. The remaining $17 million will be divided among the other investors and the the company’s management and employees.

Oracle Buys Demantra

The transaction is expected to close in June 2006. Speculation about the impending deal emerged Wednesday, with observers anticipating an acquisition price of about $41 million ...

Demantra's product, Spectrum Suite, helps customers do retail planning, inventory replenishment for stores, and real-time sales and operations planning. It's one more in a series of Oracle retail-related acquisitions, including 360Commerce, Temposoft, ProfitLogic and, of course, Retek.

According to Red Herring, the acquisition price was approximately $41M, which means Demantra's investors couldn't have been to excited as they invested $42M over 10 years. Not the first company in the news recently to be sold for less then the total of its funding.

Lastly, SAP may feel some impact of this acquisition as Demantra is part of the Powered by NetWeaver partnership program. It's unclear if SAP will lose Demantra as a partner. Demantra's VP of Marketing, for one, indicated there were no plans to end the association.

Portal pushing shareholders to accept Oracle bid
Oracle Corp.'s bid to acquire billing and revenue management software vendor Portal Software Inc. is still not a done deal. To encourage its shareholders to accept Oracle's offer, Portal issued a slide presentation Wednesday laying out more details of why the company's board decided to sell to the database and applications vendor.

A slide presentation, huh? Well that pretty much oughta take care of anybody still sitting on the fence. Wonder why I've never thought of something that innovative.

I wrote a post earlier about this deal (and pointed out that we had been expecting it). Seems Portal had to extend the deadline to tender shares from May 22nd to June 6. Seems that initially fewer then 25% of Portal's public shareholders (excluding board members and management) had tendered shares. Seems some folks weren't happy "with both the price and structure."

In the slide presentation, which is on the SEC's Web site, Portal lists as factors in its decision to go with Oracle its financial woes...

Financial woes you say? Jeez, they lost $75M (net income) on revenues of $105M for the 12 months ending in Jan of 05 (that's the most recent I could find; they were delisted from NASDAQ and are deliquent in their filings). Does anybody else think that maybe if you're a shareholder you should take Larry's $220M and call it a day?