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Oracle trades stake for database use

The database software maker is using its $500 million venture fund to take another jab at chief rival Microsoft.

    Database software maker Oracle today used its $500 million venture fund to take another jab at chief rival Microsoft.

    Oracle invested an undisclosed amount in WebEx, a company that allows individuals and businesses to hold voice and video meetings over the Web. Oracle made the investment only after the company switched from Microsoft's SQL Server database software to Oracle 8i, Oracle's Internet-focused database.

    The Oracle Venture Fund was established last year to promote companies developing products and services based on Oracle technologies. WebEx, founded in 1996, is the first company to get funding from that source. While WebEx praised the expandability of Oracle8i to help it accommodate its exponential growth, the motivation for the switch remains an open question.

    Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive, has many times--and in no uncertain terms--expressed his disdain for Microsoft, the world's largest software company. Recently, Ellison restated a long-term goal to make Oracle the No. 1 software maker in the world. Oracle is the leading maker of database software.

    Oracle said that companies it funds can also benefit from Oracle's worldwide marketing and branding. Funded companies will receive access to Oracle's technology, developers, technical support and early releases of new software.