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PeopleSoft founder looks out for his own

Former employees displaced by Oracle merger will soon be eligible for financial assistance through a fund endowed by Dave Duffield.

Former PeopleSoft employees displaced by the Oracle merger will soon be eligible for financial assistance through The Safety Net Fund, which is expected to formally launch as early as Friday.

The fund, endowed by PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield, who's widely known throughout Silicon Valley for his parental oversight of the people who made up his workforce, will begin taking applications in the next two weeks.

"The Safety Net will make cash gifts to people who demonstrate a serious need. The gift is intended as a "bridge" to help you through a tough time," Duffield said in a letter posted on the fund's site. "This fund is something that Cheryl and I, both former PeoplePeople, wanted to set up as a way to acknowledge your loyalty and dedication to PeopleSoft." Cheryl is Duffield's wife.

The Safety Net fund will distribute tax-free grants to those who successfully complete the application, outlining how they are encountering financial hardship as a result of the Oracle merger. Applicants will also need to meet several requirements, said Kit Robinson, a spokesman for the fund and a former PeopleSoft employee.

The restrictions include having served as a full-time employee as of Dec. 13, when the purchase agreement with Oracle was signed; having been laid off as a result of the merger; having earned less than $150,000 a year while a PeopleSoft employee; and having been unsuccessful in finding comparable work three months after the Oracle termination. Finally, severance benefits must either be depleted, or the applicant must be facing additional hardships, such as medical bills or relocation costs.

It'll be three months come April 11, when hundreds of layoff notices were distributed to PeopleSoft employees, following the $10.3 billion megamerger with Oracle.

At the time, PeopleSoft employees received a minimum of three months of pay and benefits as part of their severance package.

The grants will vary in size, depending on the applicant's need, but they will be capped at $10,000 each, Robinson said.

One former PeopleSoft employee has submitted an application, but no funds have yet been distributed, Robinson said, noting that the program is just now getting under way.