PEOPLESOFT CONNECT: Conway credits users with thwarting Oracle takeover bid

ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Sporting bulletproof vests, PeopleSoft Inc. CEO Craig Conway and pet pooch Abbey were taking no chances on Monday at PeopleSoft’s annual user conference here.

“You may be wondering why we’re wearing vests,” Conway said to a crowd of 11,000 users.

“Have you noticed how often Larry Ellison changes his mind?” Conway asked. “First, they’re going to cancel all our products, then they’re not. Then they’re going to fire all our employees, then they’re not. He’s going to shoot the dog, then he’s going to shoot me. So, Abbey and I have decided not to take any chances,” he said, indicating his and the black Labrador’s matching bulletproof vests.

These comments reference a war of words passed back and forth in July between Conway and Ellison, after Oracle attempted a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft on June 6 – only days after PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards Co.

Ellison declared his intent to buy PeopleSoft and stop manufacturing its products, which Conway compared to buying a new dog just to shoot it. Ellison responded by saying that he didn’t know if Conway owned a dog, but if he had only one bullet, it wouldn’t be for the dog.

Conway credited users with thwarting Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover attempt saying that CEO Ellison’s attempt to disrupt PeopleSoft’s business could have worked, but because customers went ahead with planned purchases business continued as usual, and the company exceeded its financial guidance for the second quarter of 2003.

The City of Calgary, for example, was put in the position of having to re-evaluate its intent to upgrade its PeopleSoft applications after hearing about Oracle’s takeover bid.

“It came at the most inopportune moment,” said Gilles D. Champagne, manager, employee services, human resources at the city. “We owed it to ourselves to take a step back [and consider our options].”

Champagne said it took the city about two days to understand the issues, and after consulting extensively with analysts and investment specialists the city was back on track with PeopleSoft in only two weeks.

“We ultimately decided the risk was acceptable,” he explained. “Support for our HR ended in March 2004 and we didn’t want to be on an unsupported platform.”

Calgary is currently upgrading from PeopleSoft HR v.7.51 to v.8.8.

Champagne was also impressed with how Conway responded to Ellison’s comments saying he appreciated the tongue-in-cheek nature of Conway’s remarks.

However, users are not the only ones making light of Oracle’s bid. Analysts are also skeptical about the credibility of Oracle’s intentions. Warren Shiau, software analyst at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said it doesn’t make sense for shareholders to sell their stocks for Oracle’s proposed price of US$19.50 per share. Now that PeopleSoft has initiated a US$350 million stock buyback program, shareholders could stand to make more money by selling to PeopleSoft.

PeopleSoft is now in the process of integrating its products with those of J.D. Edwards, and on Monday the company announced the availability of its EnterpriseONE family – PeopleSoft’s new product family based on five J.D. Edwards products geared towards the midmarket. [Please see UPDATE: PeopleSoft announces layoffs, new product lines.]

Conway also announced enhancements to the company’s support policy and new tools to reduce implementation time and cost. PeopleSoft will now provide upgrade scripts to the most current release for five years, and support for tax and related regulatory changes for six years. The company still offers software fixes and updates for four years from general availability.

The company also announced six new Process Integration Packs to facilitate integration with Oracle and SAP AG products.

PeopleSoft is based in Pleasanton, Calif. For more information visit