Contrary to what a recent Oracle event brochure led some people to believe, Scott McNealy, chairman, chief executive officer and president at Sun Microsystems, is not holding a grudge against the database maker.
A brochure handed out at the OracleWorld conference last month listed McNealy as a keynote speaker, but he never showed up. His absence prompted a flurry of news stories, suggesting McNealy backed out at the last minute because Oracle and Hewlett-Packard Co. have recently forged closer ties. While Sun was once Oracle's most celebrated hardware partner, HP has stolen some of the thunder by teaming with Oracle for a server technology push.
McNealy, however, said he was just too busy to make the event and that Oracle's marketing department listed him as a speaker, hoping he would show up after all.
"I didn't drop out," McNealy said in an interview last week. "I told them from day one that I was on the East Coast. I had a business round-table. I think I had a GE (General Electric Co.) board meeting that week. They wanted me to come. They kept saying, 'Oh, he'll change his mind.' I've never missed one, but I couldn't make it this time."
An Oracle spokeswoman confirmed that "McNealy's recollection is accurate."
McNealy's absence caused a stir, as some industry observers believed he was reacting to recent announcements from Oracle and HP about their work together. Carly Fiorina, chief executive officer and chairman at HP, spoke at the OracleWorld event, presenting a number of reasons her company's servers could run an Oracle database better than Sun's. In particular, Fiorina talked about Oracle's database being available on HP's servers that use Itanium processors from Intel Corp., which compete directly against Sun's systems.
Fiorina also commented on her company's servers, PCs and notebooks being used to power Larry Ellison's yacht in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Oracle Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ellison is an avid sailor.
McNealy said he doesn't harbor any animosity about Oracle's relationship with HP because the database maker helps Sun compete against other rivals. McNealy would be more than pleased to see Oracle thrive in the data center, which helps Sun generate revenue.
"I am way happier for Oracle to win rather than IBM (Corp.) or Microsoft (Corp.)," McNealy said. "I want Larry to do well."