Partners Ponder PeopleSoft Putsch

(Note: A putsch is, according to,, a secretly planned and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government.)

Well the PeopleSoft board certainly did that last week by jettisoning Craig Conway, a very high profile CEO.

PeopleSoft's cadre of high-end integration partners, appeared for the most part, shocked, SHOCKED to see Conway go this way.

In its the press release about last week's events, PeopleSoft said it expected third quarter revenues to exceed $150 million, a pretty nifty figure for a company under attack. It expanded on those figures Monday in another release saying license revenues will fall between $155 million to $165 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2004. PeopleSoft also said it added 150 new customers in the quarter. And, that those newbies represent nearly a third ("more than 30 percent") of total license revenue.

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PeopleSoft, had missed its revenue targets for the previous quarter, citing confusion caused by Oracle's bid.

At any rate, most PeopleSoft partners contacted about Conway's ouster were sad to see Conway leave but were jazzed about PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield's more active role. Most felt the move would defuse tensions emanating from Conway and Ellison's heated battle. A minority seemed to think Duffield's presence was more likely to leave PeopleSoft independent. The man's legendary people skills are admired by employees and customers alike.

One long-time integration partner said he sensed something amiss at PeopleSoft's annual confab at the Moscone Center two weeks ago, when Conway introduced Duffield (on Duffield's birthday no less) from the stage. While Duffield was chairman during the Conway regime, he'd stayed pretty much in the background. This partner said Conway's performance at the big show struck him as odd. "He was off. Something was up," he said. A week later, Conway was history.

It appears that since Conway was not fired "for cause," he will reap the proceeds of a generous pay-out package. Company reps have reportedly valued that payout at between $10 million to $20 million. Hardly chump change.

A veteran Wall Street watcher, no stranger to short- or long-selling, was melancholy about the whole PeopleSoft-Oracle saga. Noting that PeopleSoft's stock rose on the news of Conway's ouster, he said: "Sure, they love this. It doesn't matter that a perfectly good company gets savaged." (He has no position on either Oracle or PeopleSoft.)

Now at least one battle front has opened up in Delaware Chancery Court where Oracle's mouthpieces charge that Conway had misrepresented the impact of Oracle's buyout attempt on PeopleSoft's own business.

Stay tuned....