PeopleSoft CEO: 'Oracle failed'

Chief Executive Craig Conway continues the war of words in his company's battle to fend off a hostile bid from rival Oracle.

Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
Alorie Gilbert
3 min read
ANAHEIM, Calif.--PeopleSoft Chief Executive Craig Conway on Monday continued the war of words in his company's battle to fend off a hostile bid from rival Oracle.

At PeopleSoft's customer conference here, Conway told the audience that his company is "profoundly grateful" to its customers for sticking by it, and PeopleSoft is moving forward with planned software purchases in June despite the uncertainty caused by the Oracle bid. "Oracle failed in its approach to PeopleSoft because of you," he said.

Although Oracle's bid for the company and PeopleSoft's efforts to thwart it have dragged on for almost four months, emotions on both sides are still as high as the day Oracle CEO Larry Ellison launched the bid.

Conway appeared onstage in a bulletproof vest with his dog Abbey, playing off a controversial statement made by Ellison in July. At the time, Ellison told analysts that if he had a gun with only one bullet, he'd choose Conway over Conway's black lab Abbey as a target. Onstage Monday, Abbey also wore a bulletproof vest.

"Abbey and I decided we weren't taking any chances," Conway said, after rolling a video of Ellison making the comment.

Conway talked about an outpouring of support from PeopleSoft customers, many of whom, he said, viewed PeopleSoft vs. Oracle in terms of right vs. wrong.

Oracle launched its tender offer just weeks before PeopleSoft's second quarter ended June 30, potentially wreaking havoc during a critical deal-making period. Oracle recently extended its tender offer period as it seeks regulatory approval for the proposed $7.25 billion deal and fights a number of other hurdles.

Last week at its own customer conference, Oracle reiterated its commitment to buying PeopleSoft. A top Oracle executive, however, said it is unlikely that the company will raise its $19.50 per share offer for PeopleSoft.

Meanwhile, PeopleSoft has completed its acquisition of J.D. Edwards, pushing Oracle out of the No. 2 spot in the business applications market after German competitor SAP in terms of sales.

Conway on Monday also talked about the company's efforts to improve customer service and support, as well as software quality.

He said that PeopleSoft has increased the time that upgrade tools and certain software updates are available as part of its standard maintenance package, which he called the most generous in the industry. That news was met with applause.

Earlier on Monday, the company announced a package of applications and services aimed at lowering the cost of owning its products. Conway said that as part of that initiative, PeopleSoft has assembled a team of 500 software engineers dedicated to improving the quality of the company's applications. The "total ownership experience" initiative is aimed at making the software easier to install, configure and update, requiring less labor, he said.

Conway also talked about the state of the economy, saying that it's "improving steadily" rather than exponentially. He said the "jobless recovery" phenomenon is a direct result of the leaps in productivity that companies have made by using information technology, including the type that PeopleSoft develops. "Systems have been made permanently efficient," he said.