Oracle is the world's second biggest software company after Microsoft, and its founder and guiding light Larry Ellison ranks just behind Microsoft's Bill Gates among the leading gurus of the IT industry (as well as being one of the world's richest men). Oracle markets a wide range of enterprise software products which allow big corporations, institutions and governments to manage information, as well as their finances, human resources, order management, supply chains and other disciplines. It now offers most of its main services via the cloud. As a result of the sheer variety of solutions it offers, Oracle's 430,000 or so customers include all of the Fortune 100 biggest global companies. It has been one of the most acquisitive companies in the industry, buying well over 100 different businesses since 2004, mostly mid-sized deals at under $10bn each. Only one has so far exceeded that figure, Peoplesoft, added in 2005 for $10.3bn. In 2009 the company agreed to acquire server and software group Sun Microsystems, also the developer of programming language Java, for around $7.4bn. Planning software NetSuite was added in 2017 for $9.1bn. As a result of these bolt-ons, Oracle is the only company strong in all three enterprise software disciplines: databases, business management applications, and the software used to make all these diverse products work together harmoniously, known as middleware. Some of Oracle's services are very specific, for example, the Oracle Marketing Cloud, designed specifically for big companies' marketing departments. This is an area Oracle has gradually expanded, pushing aggressively into marketing analytics and effectiveness measurement though purchases such as DataLogix in 2014 and Moat in 2017. Other subsidiary brands under the Oracle banner include WebLogic, Siebel and JD Edwards as well as database platform MySQL. Performance for the past few years has been comparatively flat, partly as a result of currency fluctuation but also intense competition from other cloud-based service providers, not least newer entrants Amazon and Google. Revenues for the year to May 2019 hit a new high of $39.5bn but have risen by less than 3% in six years. Tax cuts allowed net income to top $10bn for the first time that year, at $11.1bn. Nevertheless, investors continue to rate the group highly, pushing its share price up to record levels during 2019. Software accounts for 80% of sales. Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO in 2014 but remains Oracle's chairman, chief technology officer and controlling shareholder. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd and longtime Ellison lieutenant Safra Catz moved up to become co-CEOs. However, Hurd later took leave of absence in 2019 for medical reasons, and died soon afterwards, leaving Catz as sole CEO.
Capsule checked 21st October 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Sep 2020: Confusion reigns in the TikTok negotiations. Further changes were announced over the weekend following the intervention of the US government. Under that arrangement, Chinese company Bytedance would transfer TikTok into a new corporate entity, that will operate the social media service in the US and most other countries except China. Bytedance said it would retain 80% ownership of this new TikTok Global company, and could reduce its stake further in a US-based IPO earmarked for 2021. Oracle, meanwhile, was expected to end up with around 12.5%, partnered by Walmart with 7.5%. Since Bytedance is itself already 40% owned by US investors, it was argued that the new TikTok Global business would in effect be majority owned by US-based companies. Oracle would also become TikTok Global's cloud computing partner and "trusted technology partner", while Walmart will provide as yet unspecified "omnichannel retail capabilities". Yet only a day later, both sides were already arguing over those terms, with Oracle claiming "ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global". Meanwhile President Trump reiterated his threat not to approve any deal that leaves a Chinese company with majority control of the business. Talks continue...
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Sep 2020: Oracle was the unlikely victor in the auction to take control of TikTok in the US. President Trump had said he would ban the Chinese social media sensation unless it was acquired by a US company, on grounds that it constitutes a threat to national security. Microsoft, with backing from Walmart, had been considered the most likely purchaser of TikTok. However its Chinese owners preferred a late bid from Oracle, which appears to have less far-reaching implications with regard to ownership. Terms have not yet been disclosed, but Oracle is being described as TikTok's partner rather than a purchaser. This arrangement must still be approved by the White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. However, Oracle's founder and CEO Larry Ellison is a high profile fundraiser for Donald Trump, which makes approval more or less certain in some form or another. That's the way things generally work in the Trump White House. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is not known to be a Trump supporter. Early signs are that Trump is manoeuvering to give Oracle and other US investors majority control of TikTok US, against the wishes of its Chinese owners.
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Oct 2019: Mark Hurd, former co-CEO of Oracle and before that CEO of HP, has died at the age of just 62. The cause of death was not disclosed. Hurd took medical leave of absence just two weeks earlier from Oracle, where he had been co-CEO since 2010. "Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle," said founder and chairman Larry Ellison. Before he was recruited to Oracle by Ellison, he had been obliged to step down from HP as a result of what the board considered to be an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Dec 2014: Business software giant Oracle acquired data analytics firm Datalogix for an undisclosed amount, rumoured to be in the region of $500m. The purchase will expand Oracle's marketing-related offering. Datalogix analyses and audits the results of marketing campaigns, comparing advertising expenditure against subsequent purchasing. Two key clients are Facebook and Google, who employ Datalogix to demonstrate the effects of online advertising. The company also works for Ford and Kraft, among others.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Sept 2014: Larry Ellison, founder of corporate software giant Oracle is to step down as CEO in favour of current co-presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who move up to become co-CEOs. However the 70 year-old Ellison will barely reduce his hands-on involvement in the business. He will take over the roles of chairman and chief technology officer, and remains Oracle's controlling shareholder (and as a result, the world's 5th wealthiest individual).
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