OMG. The Oracle-HP rivalry is about as nasty as Yankees-Red Sox (better luck next year, Boston!) or Ohio State-Michigan.
The above quote is from a press release that Oracle audaciously put out Wednesday night accusing the CEO of British software firm Autonomy of either “lying” or having a “very poor memory.” HP agreed to buy Autonomy for more than $10 billion. It was one of the last moves made by HP CEO Leo Apotheker before he was canned and replaced by Meg Whitman.
But Oracle, in all its awesome Ellison-ness, decided to rub salt in the wound by declaring that Autonomy tried to sell itself to Oracle first and that Oracle turned the deal down, citing the fact that Autonomy was already overpriced at $6 billion.
Oracle claims that Lynch and Autonomy banker Frank Quattrone met with Oracle’s head of M&A and president Mark Hurd. You may have heard (ha!) that Hurd used to be the CEO of HP before Apotheker.
Oracle even gave the date and time of the meeting … which was … wait for it … April Fool’s Day! That’s rich. And it only gets better.
After Lynch came out late Wednesday and admitted to remembering that he did meet Hurd, but only to discuss database software issues, Oracle put out another press release early Thursday. That one was titled “Another Whopper from Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch.” And that release included links to a page called Oracle.com/PleaseBuyAutonomy. That page has the aforementioned PowerPoint presentations. Unbelievable!
All this comes as the The Wall Street Journal reports that HP has hired Goldman Sachs to protect it from activist shareholders. But based on Oracle’s latest offensive, I think that the likes of Carl Icahn are the least of HP’s worries right now. — Paul