Benioff: Oracle 'Drawing Straws,' Microsoft 'Irrelevant'


Salesforce.com CEO and Chairman Marc Benioff again took the gloves off and socked the competition this week at his company's Cloudforce event in New York, this time calling into question Oracle's cloud strategy and saying Microsoft no longer matters.

During a Cloudforce question and answer session with reporters and analysts, the always candid Benioff chided the two tech powerhouses for what he said are outdated visions of cloud computing. In the past, Benioff has ripped on Oracle for being what he called a "false cloud" and has trashed Microsoft's cloud CRM attempts, but this strike was particularly venomous.

"They have been announcing these cloud strategies for quite some time," Benioff said of Oracle, where he cut his teeth in tech before defecting to start Salesforce. "I don't know what they're doing, honestly. I think they're just selling computers."

Benioff shared the latest rumor which has Oracle discontinuing its CRM On Demand offering and shutting down that unit to focus on its Fusion suite, which is not multi-tenant. Ditching CRM on-demand would be an odd move for Oracle, as the company recently plunked down roughly $1.5 billion to buy RightNow Technologies, a supplier of cloud-based customer- service and call center services, that Oracle plans to add to its on-demand CRM portfolio. Benioff also predicted the demise of Oracle CRM On Demand two years ago, but since then Oracle has put out to major releases for the product.

Benioff said it currently appears Oracle's strategy seems to be more focused around becoming Teradata or nCUBE and that the cloud plays a secondary role, if any. Benioff added that RightNow won't help pull Oracle out of the false cloud slump, adding that two key customers, Zynga and Electronic Arts, have previously ditched RightNow in favor of Salesforce plays.

Oracle rebuffed Benioff's claims however, saying that Oracle CRM On Demand isn't going anywhere.

"Untrue. Oracle will continue to invest in our current Oracle CRM On Demand product by delivering additional new releases and innovations," an Oracle spokesperson said in an e-mail to CRN. Oracle could not comment on Benioff's claims about RightNow since that acquisition hasn't closed.

"I think it's a failed strategy and I don't think it's the future," Benioff said, adding that rumors swirling about Oracle planning to acquire other cloud companies to bolster its cloud profile show that the company is "drawing at straws" and called Oracle a "scavenger." Benioff said that saying "'what company are we going to buy today?' isn't a strategy."

Benioff paraphrased an old quote from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in which the Oracle leader reportedly said it's "a lot easier to write checks than software."

Benioff's Oracle tirade could be bitterness left over from Ellison and Co. reportedly cancelling Benioff's scheduled keynote at Oracle OpenWorld in October, a shun that Benioff wore as a sort of badge of honor when he took over a San Francisco restaurant and held his keynote anyway, calling out Oracle's "proprietary mainframes" and "close systems" and broadcasting it to the OpenWorld show floor to massive crowds. Oracle and Salesforce differ on whether the keynote was actually canceled or postponed and the reasons behind it.

Along with taking Oracle to the mat, Benioff also rekindled his flame war with Microsoft. In response to a question regarding whether Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform has proven stiff competition for Salesforce, Benioff chuckled, purposely mispronounced Azure and said he knows of not one large company leveraging the platform and asked reporters if they could name one. The response was silence. Benioff said he hasn't seen Azure in the market. What followed was a string of insults flung in Microsoft's direction, including that the company has "lost relevancy" and "they don't matter anymore."

Benioff pointed out that Microsoft has a tablet, and it has smartphones too, but they're collecting dust in warehouses. He said he doesn't carry a Windows device. He has a BlackBerry, an iPad and an Amazon Kindle Fire. He sees no need for Windows.

"Windows 8 is coming and I think it's a big 'who cares?'" he said. "Every quarter they seem to be interested in something else … I don't have a lot of affection for that type of business."

Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

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