Maybe not yet, but it isn’t because Larry Ellison doesn’t want to buy them. Oracle has been on an acquisition binge for the last two decades.Since the beginning of 2002 Oracle has acquired 83 companies! That’s averaging over eight per year. For those of you who have ever dealt in M&A work… can you imagine? Nice work if you’re a lawyer in the group.
The company that is now Oracle was founded in 1977 by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates. Their vision was to create a relational database that was independent of the brand of computer. They named the product Oracle. It was a great idea but a new concept at the time, and as often happens in such cases, it was a little slow to catch on. But eventually customers understood the value and over time the company became the behemoth it is today.
Unfortunately, Oracle had their one great idea and that’s it. Since then all they’ve done is buy other products and companies. With such a long list I won’t start to name them, but conversely I would challenge anyone to name a home grown Oracle product that has had any respectable impact on the industry. You can always find detractors for Google, Microsoft, IBM, HP or Apple, but you can’t argue about the impact of their products on the market. You many not like the impact, but it’s there.
On the other hand, Oracle seems to be content with being the CA of the new millennium. CA (Computer Associates) spent the 80’s and 90’s buying up software companies to create a huge corporation with lots of sales people but no understandable strategy, no original technology and no coherence as a company. They’re still around today as CA Technologies but in spite of their name, they are not a technology company, they’re a software sales company. I suppose Larry admired CA (probably just for the gross revenue numbers) and decided to emulate them.
And not unlike CA in their heyday, today Oracle is viewed more of a pariah than an industry innovator. Now for part two of my challenge questions: name someone who actually likes them (excluding employees and relatives). Will Oracle every really try and buy Google? I certainly would not be surprised. But even if they do it won’t change who they are, because you can buy assets but you can’t buy respect.