Why would he do that?
Bad blood. Oracle and HP can't stand each other. It started when Oracle bought Sun and became a competitor to HP. Then Ellison called HP a bunch of idiots for sacking their last CEO, Mark Hurd. Then Oracle made Hurd one of its presidents. And then HP hired Apotheker -- a former CEO at Oracle's biggest software rival -- and Ray Lane -- another former Oracle executive -- to run its company in place of Hurd. So things have become pretty personal. Surreal, you might say.
No kidding. How much do these people get paid to behave like this?
A lot, but that's not the point.
So SAP agreed to drop the whole business of whether it knew about TomorrowNow to save Apotheker taking the stand?
Sort of. It also wants to spare its own executives. And it wants to get the trial over with ASAP, since Oracle keeps firing off press releases and legal filings where it calls SAP a bunch of crooks.
So we won't see all these big CEOs on the stand next week?
We may do. On Friday the judge accepted SAP's request that it won't contest that it contributed to the infringement (i.e. that its executives knew about it). That will make it harder for Oracle to drag all of SAP's executives onto the stand. But the judge also said Oracle can present arguments about SAP's role in all of this so long as it's relevant to the question of damages. So Oracle will still call on SAP's executives and the judge will decide whether each one is relevant enough to be allowed on the stand. Ellison's likely to be in court also. For all his showmanship he seems genuinely angry that someone pilfered his software. He wants to get on the stand and tell the world about how they cheated his company.
He's a bit of a blowhard isn't he?
He certainly says what's on his mind. He rides sailboats and appears in movies. But he's also as sharp as a pin and apparently he's pretty good at classical guitar too, so he's not a total jock.
What about Leo?
I don't think he's a jock either.
I mean, will he be on the stand?
Probably not, he's apparently on around the world trip.
Oracle says it can't subpoena Apotheker to appear unless he's present in California. And HP says he's on a worldwide "listening tour" with its employees. He might not be back until the trial is over.
That sounds a bit convenient.
It does, but HP did say in a press release when it made him CEO that he'd kick the job off with this round-the-world jaunt.
Is it a coincidence Apotheker starts work at HP the same day the trial is due to start?
Looks like it. Ellison's a powerful guy but even he probably couldn't have arranged that one.
So one more time, what's this trial about next week?
It's mainly about how much damages SAP will have to pay, which means there will be testimony about how the software industry works and from damages experts. It will also touch a bit on how much SAP executives knew about this, so that's where it could get interesting.
So the trial starts Monday?
Yep. Jury selection is on Monday, opening statements will probably happen the next day.
And why do I care about this again?
To be honest it may not affect you that much, but it sure makes for good sport. If you're a shareholder in SAP or Oracle you might want to know how much money each of them stands to win or lose. If you're an SAP customer you might want to know how virtuous the people who run that company are, although some of the executives have moved on by now anyway. And if you're interested in third-party support services there might be some ramifications there. Some people say the problems SAP has had will put off other companies from getting into the business.