Just when it seemed as if Oracle and Hewlett-Packard had patched up their differences following the hiring of Mark Hurd, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison publicly trashed HP's decision to hire former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker as its new CEO.
"HP had several good internal candidates ... but instead they pick a guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP," Ellison said in an e-mail to The Wall Street Journal, according to a posting on the publication's Web site Monday.
In his note Ellison went so far as to say HP's board members should resign for their actions. "None of the HP board members own much HP stock so they have little to lose," he wrote, according to the Journal. "But the HP employees, customers, partners and shareholders will suffer. The HP board needs to resign en masse ... right away. The madness must stop."
Oracle hired Hurd as co-president in mid-September, about one month after he was forced out from HP after he was found to have violated HP's standards of business conduct.
Last week, in a surprise move, HP hired Apotheker to replace Hurd. Apotheker, who held a number of posts at SAP over a 20-year span, stepped down after less than a year as that company's CEO in February after the company's poor performance in 2009.
NEXT: Ups, Downs Of The HP-Oracle Partnership
SAP is Oracle's chief rival in the market for business applications and Ellison often takes digs at the Walldorf, Germany-based company. During one earnings call several years ago he famously referred to SAP several times by pronouncing "SAP" as a word, rather than as individual initials.
Oracle's hiring of Hurd prompted a lawsuit by HP against Hurd charging that the former CEO could use trade secrets in his new job to compete with HP and cause "irreparable damage."
Ellison responded in a blistering statement in which he threatened to end the longstanding relationship between Oracle and HP. "By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees," Ellison said. "The HP board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."
More recently, however, the HP-Oracle alliance seemed to be on the mend. HP executive Ann Livermore, who was herself said to be a candidate to replace Hurd, delivered a keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld on Sept. 19 in which she said the partnership between the two companies was strong, citing a long list of statistics to illustrate the depth of the relationship including having 140,000 joint customers.
The next day HP and Oracle announced that the HP-Hurd lawsuit had been settled.