Chuck, as in Chuck Phillips, a Morgan Stanley star analyst who moved to Oracle three years ago and became its co-president--in the process, jettisoning "Chuck" for "Charles."
But the old-school tie doesn't count for much when it comes to his former colleagues giving Oracle a thumbs up. Analysts have continuing complaints about Oracle, especially the way it slices and dices its quarterly results. Oracle's stock has remained stuck in the low teens seemingly forever. None of this makes any sense to Phillips, who confesses frustration with the pessimism voiced by his former colleagues.
That's one reason Oracle is launching a major advertising campaign, which, coincidentally or not, takes place just as archrival SAP kicks off its annual Sapphire user conference in Orlando, Fla.
Phillips recently chatted with CNET News.com about the database debate, Oracle's closely watched Project Fusion and the company's struggle to receive recognition as a growing enterprise.
Q: Why are you rolling out this ad now, and who are you targeting with this ad? Buyers of SAP, buyers of Oracle or Oracle investors?
Phillips: All of the above. It does have impact in the marketplace when customers perceive that you have momentum and are gaining market share. It's useful to get that information out to the marketplace.
The trouble is, I can't get the financial analysts to do that sort of work anymore. I guess they don't feel it's their job anymore, or they don't like math or whatever. So, I figured, let's go direct and get the message out, because the perception is that if you listened to SAP, you would think that they are growing faster.
Phillips takes analysts to task
Oracle's latest advertisement that takes a jab at archrival SAP is a byproduct of Phillips beef with analysts, his former brethren.
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You sound unhappy with the coverage Oracle is getting from Wall Street. Do you miss being an analyst?
Phillips: No, not if they're going to do it as poorly as they're doing it now. So no, I don't miss it. I know how to do this, obviously, and it's not that hard. This is not rocket science. You just have to do your homework.
Your ad claims that Oracle's applications license business, excluding acquisitions, rose 31 percent in the most recent quarter. Your figure for SAP says its license business grew 14 percent in its most recent quarter, but that includes its middleware. Why include middleware? What if its NetWeaver middleware is pulling down its results?
Phillips: When Oracle gives you an applications number, it's only applications. It doesn't include middleware, databases or third-party products. It's just pure applications that we sold during that quarter. But when SAP gives you a license number, it bundles in everything, including its middleware NetWeaver, including third-party products--and including our database, which they resell. All that is included as SAP license revenue.
If you believe them, that NetWeaver is growing faster than the rest of the company, and they are throwing out some pretty high growth rate figures, then that means its applications business would have to be growing even more slowly. If NetWeaver is growing faster than the total, then that means something is growing more slowly than the total.
Why did you compare only the most recent quarterly results? Why not compare a trailing 12-month period?
Phillips: The latest quarter is a fair comparison. With all the changes and acquisitions we had, there was nothing else that was comparable. But now, with this last quarter, it was the first time we had a quarter that was somewhat comparable to the quarter a year ago. We owned PeopleSoft in the prior year for the quarter that just ended, so the only addition we had was one month worth of Siebel. We were able to quantify the quarter and back out acquisitions, since it was only Siebel (in the mix).
With all your acquisitions, how is timing looking for producing a single line of code for Project Fusion?
Phillips: We are saying the first components of Fusion will start to ship in 2007, and the first version of the full suite will ship in 2008. We also told people that we will give them choices. Even when Fusion ships, that doesn't mean that we won't have new versions or new developments on PeopleSoft, Siebel or J.D. Edwards, or the existing applications.
What are you doing to attract customers to spend the big bucks while they wait for Fusion to come out?
Phillips: The way we get our applications revenue to grow 82 percent is to have people sign big deals. (Oracle's advertisement states that applications licenses grew 31 percent, excluding acquisitions.) Customers are saying, "Oracle has taken me through upgrades many times before. I have been with you when you had mainframe products, client-server products to Internet products." They have been through this before with us with other technologies, and they know we never leave anyone behind.
What about Fusion supporting competing databases, like your PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards does now? Are you any closer to making a decision on this?
Phillips: We are closer, but no decision has been made. There are some technical hurdles--but it's not coming from us--on whether other databases can accommodate the features that are needed. We are working with third parties that are interested in supporting Fusion with their databases, and we provided them with technological documents to say, "This is what you need to do." And at this point, we don't know if it's possible.
And ETA on when a decision might be reached?
Phillips: We are not controlling the schedule, at this point. In March, we provided to third parties information on, "This is what's needed; here's what you need to do, and here are the features that we use in our database that is not in your database. And if you want to run Fusion applications, you have to add it."