Quoted: Reunited, and it feels so good? Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff on cloud nine

“I also just wanted think Larry as well. [Oracle is] always there for us whenever we need them. They are a true partner, they’ve always been a true partner.”

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, on Thursday’s conference call to discuss his company’s new alliance with Oracle, where he used to work for and was mentored by Larry Ellison. We haven’t seen any reports that the two of them sang “Kumbaya” during the call, but the quotes could’ve come from a mutual-admiration society handbook — quite a change from the trash talking the CEOs have engaged in over the years.

As Benioff’s San Francisco company, the cloud software provider he founded in 1999, rose throughout the years to become an Oracle competitor, the two CEOs have had some memorable public exchanges. In 2011, for example, there was Ellison’s “roach motel” comment: “You can check in but you can’t check out” [of Salesforce.com]. It’s like an airplane, you fly into the cloud and you never get out. It’s not a good thing.” This was after Oracle moved and rescheduled Benioff’s scheduled keynote at OpenWorld in an apparent response to Benioff’s public criticism of the  speech Ellison gave at the opening of the conference, which had also been panned by others as dull and uninspiring. Benioff admittedly turned the whole thing to his advantage: “This is the best possible outcome. It’s free publicity, and it is clear that Oracle is threatened by us,” he told the New York Times.

The announcement Thursday was the latest in Oracle’s recent flurry of cloud partnerships. It also announced new deals with Microsoft and NetSuite this week. The partnerships reflect an evolution at Oracle not only because it is playing nice with onetime rivals, but also in its stronger push into the cloud — which Ellison once called “complete gibberish” — where the  Redwood City company is said to lag behind its smaller competitors.

 

Photos of Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison from Mercury News archives

 

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