Larry Ellison's shopping list

Siebel, BEA, and the Soviet Air Force

The Department of Justice has published Oracle's most wanted list. It's a memo from April last year detailing the company's top acquisition targets. There are few surprises, with PeopleSoft and BEA taking the top spots, and Siebel coming in third. Also on the list at the time were Documentum, Business Objects, JD Edwards, Lawson Software, Sungard and Cerner. JD Edwards was subsequently snapped up by PeopleSoft, which then became the target of an aggressive takeover bid by Oracle, which has resulted in the current Antitrust hearings.

BEA and Siebel can't relax just yet. Oracle has vowed to continue its acquisition spree. Last July we wrote how Oracle had recruited several of HP's former Bluestone team, a year after HP decided to drop the products. Oracle has since made a move on middleware startup Collaxa, started by former Netscape/iPlanet chief architect Ed Khodabakchian; although that story can't possible be true - if it was, it would be on Collaxa's blog. Collaxa's advisory board includes Adam Bosworth, BEA's chief architect. In a video deposition Ellison said that Siebel was now Oracle's second choice if the PeopleSoft bid fell through.

"I think PeopleSoft and BEA are much more attractive, are more attractive than Siebel," said Ellison, who said that Siebel's eponymous founder had made a private foray to try and sell his company to Oracle.

Oracle's lawyers complained about the timing of the release of the hit-list, but the DoJ is showing it has the same feral instincts as Oracle itself. One of the most interesting pieces of testimony was introduced last week, written by Oracle's current co-president Chuck Phillips. At the time he was a Morgan Stanley analyst, and he described Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft as an "oligopoly ? The market is down to three viable vendors who will help re-automate back-office business processes for global enterprises for years to come."

The DoJ agrees and says that downsizing the oligopoly down into a duopoly is anti-competitive. Oracle insists that competitive threats from Microsoft and persons as yet unknown will keep it honest. ®

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