Has Larry Ellison Gone Crazy?

If I remember correctly, the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting better results. If that's true, then Larry Ellison must be nuts, right?

Yesterday, the Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) chief proudly announced that he'd attempt to acquire more firms, including some headed up by his former lieutenants. That's right, there may be more episodes like the 13-month shareholder-value-destroying pursuit of business software maker PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT  ) , which is led by Craig Conway, a former Oracle executive. As has been reported many times, there's no love lost between the two, and that seems to follow with his other proteges, notably Tom Siebel of languishingSiebel Systems (Nasdaq: SEBL  ) and Marc Benioff of newly publicSalesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) .

Frankly, I've been in favor of a so-called OracleSoft combination. The potential for recurring license revenue growth appears very attractive and could really boost Oracle's moderately successful applications software business. And yet the pursuit of PeopleSoft has been costly, punishing Oracle's shares by more than 16% since the proposal was announced last June. Why would trying to acquire Siebel, Salesforce.com, or even strugglingVeritas (Nasdaq: VRTS  ) , which is headed by former Oracle executive Gary Bloom, be any different?

That doesn't appear to matter to Ellison. Speaking to analysts yesterday -- the first such meeting since testimony in the trial to determine the fate of Oracle's $7.7 billion bid for PeopleSoft ended -- Ellison noted that the software industry is entering a period of consolidation that his cash-rich company is likely to benefit from.

That's probably true. And, to his credit, Ellison admits that his firm needs to stay aggressive, get bigger, and cut costs wherever possible. According to an Associated Press report, Ellison said he thinks the industry will consolidate around Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , SAP, and, of course, Oracle. Notably, Microsoft and IBM are valued at more than twice that of Oracle today. SAP, at a market cap of $49 billion, is slightly cheaper than Oracle's $56 billion price tag.

So, yeah, Oracle needs to grow, and further acquisitions are likely the means by which it will happen. But Larry, if you're listening, please do us all a favor and stop trying to pick on your former employees, at least for now. They don't seem to like it, and neither do your owners.

What's your take? Should Oracle pursue the ex-Oracle crowd for acquisitions, or go after other hot properties such as BEA Systems? Debate this and more at the Oracle discussion board -- only at Fool.com.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is transfixed by the Oracle-PeopleSoft shenanigans in the same way others can't take their eyes away from a car wreck. Yep, it's that bad. Tim owns no stake in any of the companies mentioned, and you can view his Fool profile here.


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