by Thomas Wailgum

Ellison Attacks Try to Take Down Apotheker: Are TV Ads Next?

Oct 28, 2010
Enterprise Applications

As Oracle's case against SAP nears trial, Larry has launched a vitriolic campaign that'd make many political strategists blush.

If you live pretty much anywhere in the United States, you’re sick of the political “attack ads” so commonplace during these mid-term elections: You know, the relentless, truth-bending “Swift Boating” of Republican and Democratic candidates alike all across America.

In the high-tech arena, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has gone into his own attack mode against former SAP CEO and incoming HP CEO Léo Apotheker. As Oracle’s case against SAP (see: TomorrowNow saga) speeds to trial, Larry has launched a vitriolic campaign to discredit Apotheker that would make Karl Rove blush.

Ellison alleges, among other subtle and not-so-subtle digs, that a significant portion of the TomorrowNow (and SAP) intellectual property theft occurred during Apotheker’s watch as CEO. Ellison claims that duration lasted eight months.

The problem is that that’s not entirely true, as SAP correctly points out in its war-of-words rebuttal to Ellison’s claims.

Oh the humanity!

Larry’s next step? Who knows. He’s said more than enough by this point. And yet it’s quite possible that we could soon see an attack ad on TV and the web that would resemble the assaults playing everywhere in the political world.

I imagine that the ads would look and sound something like this (just make sure you have that evil, condescending “announcer voice” playing in your head when you read this):

[voice over] Can HP really trust Léo Apotheker?

While CEO of SAP, he allowed and encouraged a renegade subsidiary, TomorrowNow, to steal Oracle’s intellectual property for eight months, costing Oracle Corp. more than $1 billion.

The New York Times reported that Apotheker “tried to raise prices aggressively for servicing SAP’s complex software, which had resulted in a customer revolt.” That he’s “obsessed” with Oracle. And that Apotheker “chews glass for breakfast.”

Aggressive price increases, chewing glass for breakfast, higher taxes…Is that the kind of leadership HP needs right now?

Apotheker speaks four languages other than English and prefers France so much that he doesn’t even live in the United States. What’s next, Léo, a France-like socialized health-care plan at HP…and then more Obamacare?

And, really, can HP trust a man who’s got an accent aigu in his first name?

What actually happened with TomorrowNow? Apotheker claims not to know. He’s hiding behind his new chairman Ray Lane and an army of lawyers in France. C’mon Léo—if that is your real name—it’s time to tell the truth!


[cut to Ellison, grinning] “I’m Larry Ellison, and I approve this ad.”

Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal Productivity Apps for Follow him on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. E-mail Thomas at