Oracle President Talks PeopleSoft, Product Plans

Oracle on Tuesday disclosed Capital Guardian Trust Co. has swung in its favor, deciding to tender its 6% of PeopleSoft outstanding shares, a small but measurable step forward. On Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reported investment firm Paulson and Co. plans to tender its 2.4% of PeopleSoft stock, too. "The verbal commitments are going well," Phillips said in an interview with InformationWeek on Friday, between meetings with institutional investors.

A former software industry analyst with Morgan Stanley, Phillips is presumably using his knowledge of the investment community to sway decisions in Oracle's favor. But not everyone is convinced. One large PeopleSoft investor, Private Capital Management, reportedly has decided against tendering its shares.

Oracle's $24-per-share offer expires Nov. 19. The company requires approval from at least 51% of PeopleSoft shareholders to proceed with the takeover.

Oracle continues to assess other possible acquisitions. "We're looking at a lot of things," Phillips says. "We're not eliminating anything." But he declined to discuss which companies Oracle might pursue next.

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Meanwhile, Oracle continues to expand its existing product line. The company is contemplating offering a "product data hub" and possibly a "citizen data hub" for government agencies. Those would follow a Customer Data Hub introduced earlier this year as a way of helping companies organize customer-oriented data generated by a variety of business applications. Phillips says dozens of Customer Data Hubs were sold in its last quarter.

Oracle also is working with Microsoft to better tune its products to run on Windows. The database developer wants to optimize its grid software to perform as well on Windows as it does on Linux. Another goal is to offer Windows support without delay when Oracle releases new products.

"We're working to further optimize our products on Windows and working with Microsoft to do that," says Phillips. Earlier this year, the two companies revealed plans to make it easier for programmers using Microsoft's Visual Studio tools to write software that works with Oracle's database.

Oracle also is considering releasing its data-search technology as a standalone product. Called "ultra search," the tool ships today with Oracle's Collaboration Suite. "We may break it out and sell it to the enterprise," Phillips says.

An updated version of Collaboration Suite is due next spring and ultra search will gain the ability to search more file types at the same time. As part of its content-management approach, Oracle stores E-mail, voice mail, calendar entries, documents, and other data types in a single database that can be searched. The next release of Collaboration Suite will include the ability to store and search instant messages in the same way.