Well, that was interesting. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff just completed a speech at Oracle Open World, perhaps the ultimate example of co-opetition. It was apparent to me early on that Marc’s purpose for being there was to refute Larry Ellison’s rant at the Churchill Club in which he compared Cloud Computing to vapor.
I got a hint earlier today when someone said that the event had been put together quickly, which to me confirmed the need to refute Larry who spoke a couple of weeks ago at Churchill. Benioff started out by graciously telling the audience that he had worked at Oracle and attended Open World many times in his 13-year career, even presenting on the same stage he was now on. He went further pointing out that the Oracle database is one of the key components of the Salesforce service and thanked Oracle executives for the graciousness.
But there was little doubt in my mind that Benioff felt he needed to refute Ellison’s off the cuff assertions at the Churchill Club. He did that with ease and just when you might have thought he’d reached the end of his talk, he brought up the CIO of EMC Corporation Sanjay Mirchandani to discuss that company’s hybrid CRM approach that includes Salesforce and Oracle for on-premise CRM. It was almost as if he wanted to say that Salesforce can play the hybrid game as well as Oracle.
I guess the Open World setting proved too much of a temptation for Benioff. It’s in the same city as Benioff’s office. The venue was easy to get, Michael Dell another big Salesforce customer spoke at Open World this morning and was available to be on stage with Benioff for part of the afternoon.
There’s little doubt that Benioff was able to refute Ellison but the bigger question for me was why he felt he needed to. We haven’t seen this kind of action for many years and it makes for lively times in these challenging days.