(6-Oct-10) Thank heavens for Larry Ellison. Without the smack-talking Oracle (ORCL) co-founder and chief executive officer, the $1 trillion-a-year enterprise computing market would merely be huge, crucial—and boring. Oracle and fellow tech titans like IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and Cisco Systems (CSCO) make the technology that runs major corporations around the world. But the intricacies of their products can put regular folks to sleep faster than a Senate hearing on Net neutrality.
After what seemed like an uneventful interregnum in which Ellison kept his swipes largely to himself, the rabble-rouser of Redwood Shores, Calif., is acting out once more. In the past two months alone, Ellison compared the HP board to "idiots" for firing Mark Hurd, hired Hurd, then again ridiculed HP's directors when they brought in a new CEO. In an e-mail to The Wall Street Journal, Ellison called the selection of former SAP (SAP) chief Léo Apotheker "madness" and said HP's whole board should resign. He even made fun of SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner's "wild Einstein hair." (Although, to be fair, Plattner did moon Ellison years ago during a sailboat race.) The Oracle chief "basically says to all players, 'I am your enemy,' " says Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com (CRM) and a former Oracle executive, who himself has been the target of several Ellisonian barbs over the past few weeks.