MediaFile

Tech wrap: Oracle and HP keep sparring

Oracle and Autonomy escalated their war of words on Thursday, sparring publicly over whether the British software firm had ever been shopped to the U.S. technology giant.

Autonomy, which Hewlett-Packard this year agreed to buy for $12 billion, is at the center of a debate on Wall Street over the tenure of fired HP CEO Leo Apotheker and the future direction of the company he once ran. The spat comes at an inopportune time for HP, fighting to salvage its reputation with investors.

Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and HP board member, Marc Andreessen, referred to Oracle as an “oldline” software company and took a jab at outspoken CEO Larry Ellison: “Larry is one of my idols,” Andreessen said. “I wouldn’t quite say my role model.”

Despite losing two more senior executives, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion brushed off suggestions on Thursday that it would discontinue production of its PlayBook computer tablet as “pure fiction.”

Fortune’s annual ranking of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” was released on Thursday and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was a noticeable omission. HP’s new CEO Meg Whitmen made the list at No. 9 and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg came in at No. 12. Google was well-represented with two women: Susan Wojcicki (No. 28) and Marissa Mayer (No. 38).

Marc Andreessen to Larry Ellison: You’re my idol. And Oracle’s day are numbered

Hewlett-Packard’s perhaps most respected board member, Marc Andreessen, wasted no time trashing its Silicon Valley antagonist, Oracle, at a conference Wednesday.

“The clock is really ticking,” he said about oldline software companies, singling out Oracle as “the most vivid case.”

Andreessen’s venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, invests in upstart software companies such as cloud-storage service Box, which hosted the conference that Andreessen spoke at on Wednesday.

Tech wrap: Google+ now open to the masses

Google has opened up its Google+ social network to anyone who’d like to give it a whirl, after a successful three-month run as an invite-only service. The company also rolled out a slew of new features for Google+, including integration of its flagship search engine into the platform, and expanded its Hangouts video-chatting feature to enable mobile use on its own Android-based smartphones. Support for Hangouts on Apple’s iOS mobile software is “coming soon”, Google promised in a blog post. Users will soon have the option to broadcast their Hangouts sessions beyond the nine allowed participants as well by opening them up to live viewing by anyone. Want to record a chat for posterity? Well, that’s coming soon too.

Google+ rival Facebook also unveiled new tweaks to its service on Tuesday, introducing a new “ticker” on its users’ home pages and providing real-time notifications of what friends are doing on the service. Facebook also revamped the service’s main news feed to flag important items — such as a new baby announcement — for Facebook users who have not logged on for a few days. Facebook also changed the way photos are displayed on the site, increasing the size of pictures that appear in a users’ news feed.

U.S. prosecutors accused poker website Full Tilt Poker on Tuesday of running a Ponzi scheme in which the company’s owners and board members paid themselves nearly half a billion dollars while defrauding players. That indictment accused three Internet poker companies — Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars — and 11 people, including Full Tilt director Raymond Bitar, of bank fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering offenses. Read the complaint in full here.

Tech wrap: Apple taps Eddy Cue to boost iAd, iCloud

Apple promoted veteran exec Eddy Cue to oversee Apple’s advertising service called iAd and iCloud, according to a leaked memo published by 9to5Mac. Cue played a major role in creating the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008, new CEO Tim Cook said in the email to employees.

An Apple employee once again appeared to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar, CNET reported. Last year, a misplaced iPhone 4 pre-production model was bought by Gizmodo. Today, two men pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft charges relating to that 2010 incident. The latest missing iPhone prototype, which disappeared in San Francisco in late July of this year,  sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, CNET wrote, citing a source familiar with the investigation.

A U.S. judge rejected a jury award of $1.3 billion to Oracle in a copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP, paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long legal dispute. In a ruling released on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272 million. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

Tech wrap: The Web is about to get some new domains

Brand owners will soon be able to operate their own parts of the Web — such as .apple, .coke or .marlboro — if the biggest shake-up yet in how Internet domains are awarded is approved.

Today, just 22 generic top-level domains exist — .com, .org and .info are a few examples — plus about 250 country-level domains like .uk or .cn.

The move is seen as a big opportunity for brands to gain more control over their online presence and send visitors more directly to parts of their sites — and a danger for those who fail to take advantage.

Where’s Leo? At HQ, want a picture?

US-ORACLE-SAP-LAWSUITAfter weeks of sometimes comical coverage on the whereabouts of new HP CEO Leo Apotheker — a farce that had come to be know as “Where’s Leo?” — the company was likely happy that the subject was almost ignored in the aftermath of its earnings report on Monday. Almost.

Apotheker’s precise location became an issue when Oracle made it known that it was trying to subpoena HP’s head man as part of its high-profile lawsuit against SAP, where Apotheker was previously CEO. Oracle, waging a skillful PR war against its newest foe, claimed Apotheker was ducking the subpoena, which would have put him on the stand in federal court in Oakland, California. Oracle even hired private investigators to track him down.

HP, for its part, refused to divulge his location, and accused Oracle of harassing Apotheker. SAP called the hunt for him a “sideshow.”

With all eyes on Hurd, plenty of praise for new employer

USA/It may have been the most anticipated tech earnings conference call of the year.

It’s a good bet many many folks in Silicon Valley, and tech investors in general, were dialed in to Oracle’s presentation on Thursday, eager to hear the first public utterances of new president Mark Hurd, the recently exiled CEO of technology giant Hewlett-Packard.

And it may have been a bit painful for Hurd’s former colleagues at HP to hear him quickly lavish praise on his new employer:

“I don’t believe there is any other company in the industry better positioned than Oracle,” Hurd said in one of his first public statements as president of the world’s No. 3 software maker.

from DealZone:

Playing in Larry’s sandbox

Having spent more than $42 billion to buy about 60 companies, Larry Ellison’s Oracle has set something of a daunting standard for merger activity in the business software industry. So while SAP’s plan to buy smaller business software maker Sybase for $5.8 billion may not roil markets, it could certainly shake up things in an already  busy infotech sector.

With Sybase, SAP gets a boost in mobile technology, but will also end up with a big database business that provides steady revenues but little else on which SAP can grow its business.

The database chunk is by far the bigger earner for Sybase, with the mobile aps business accounting for only a little over a quarter of annual revenue, so it could make an attractive business for SAP to hive off. Breakingviews columnist Robert Cyran points out that keeping a hand in the database world could also prove awkward for SAP as it exacerbates competitive friction with its allies, Microsoft and IBM.

from The Great Debate:

Sun software is the tail wagging the dog

Eric Auchard-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

When Oracle agreed to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in April, the headlines made much of the software maker's decision to enter the computer business 30 years late. At less than 10 per cent of sales, Sun's software business seemed an afterthought.

But Sun's software is now center stage after European competition regulators said on Thursday that they would withhold approval for the deal until they finish probing the impact of the Oracle-Sun merger on the database software market. The decision means the transaction faces at least a four-month delay, pushing it into early next year.

Any delay is costly for Oracle. Sun's sales have plunged as key financial, government and communications customers have held back purchases of computers and storage until Oracle is able to clarify its long-run commitment to Sun hardware and software products.

Oracle is SAP’s own Lord Voldemort

It’s been a while since German business software maker SAP has stated exactly how much of a market share it has.  And no matter how much journalists prod and badger SAP CEO Leo Apotheker he will not divulge that figure. Even when analysts say they believe that SAP’s main rival Oracle has been taking market share from the German company, Apotheker will not be moved to shed some light on the issue.  In several TV interviews on Wednesday, the day SAP presented its second-quarter results, and in a call with analysts, Apotheker not only declined to provide even a range, in fact he could not bring himself to call his company’s fiercest rival by name. “We have about twice as much market share as Number 2,” he said.  In the Harry Potter series the hero is the only one who calls his nemesis by name – Lord Voldemort - instead of ”he who must not be named”.  C’mon Leo, if Harry Potter can do it, so can you.