Arik Hesseldahl

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Oracle’s Larry Ellison, HP’s Ray Lane and the Art of the Dart (Video)

Software giant Oracle had a thoroughly uneventful shareholders meeting today. So CEO Larry Ellison, given the occasion of a question from a shareholder, decided to end it on a feisty note, doing what he loves doing: Publicly slamming Hewlett-Packard.

Asked about the ceaseless speculation that Oracle might take advantage of HP’s current weakened state and make what would be its biggest acquisition ever — an ill-advised one, if you really think about it — Ellison didn’t give a definitive yes or no answer, but took a shot at HP chairman Ray Lane, which you can see in the 80-second video clip below. (You can see the full video of the meeting here, but only if you need some help getting to sleep.)

There is, of course, no love lost between Ellison and HP’s newly elected executive chairman. Lane is a onetime Oracle president and COO pushed out by Ellison in 2000, and his election as chairman of HP’s board last year had been, in Ellison’s eyes, apparently overshadowed only by Léo Apotheker’s selection as HP’s CEO. Now that Apotheker is gone, Lane will likely remain Ellison’s favorite punching bag, with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff running a close second.

Anyhow, the shareholder’s question suggests that the “Oracle in hostile bid for HP” chatter hasn’t died yet, no matter how many ways analysts and others can dismiss it as nonsense. As you can see from Ellison’s initial reaction to the question today, he is, if nothing else, entertained by the speculation.

Update, Oct. 13: HP has just sent a statement from Lane: “I’m focused on HP, not on statements like this.”


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