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PeopleSoft v. Oracle: Game Over?

The New York Times noted: "The trial represents the next--and possibly last--major legal hurdle in Oracle's 16-month-old battle to acquire its rival. If Oracle prevails, the company will forge ahead with its campaign to get PeopleSoft shareholders to support the merger by tendering their shares. But if the judge rules in favor of PeopleSoft, Oracle could be forced to drop its bid, or stage a proxy fight to gain control of the board at PeopleSoft."
The New York Times via CNET's News.com: Oracle-PeopleSoft Battle Shifts To Delaware Court

The Financial Times said the "hearings are likely to shed new light on the abrupt sacking last week of Craig Conway as PeopleSoft's chief executive officer, according to people close to the matter. Mr Conway's vociferous opposition to the bid brought accusations from Oracle that he had acted improperly, for instance when he rejected the offer on the day it was launched before the PeopleSoft board had had time to consider it."
The Financial Times: Oracle To Seek Removal of Poison Pill

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Campaign Ads Stay Off-Line, on Air (washingtonpost.com, Oct 5, 2004)
Microsoft to Europe: Don't Be Cruel (washingtonpost.com, Oct 1, 2004)
Digitizing the Bill of Rights (washingtonpost.com, Sep 30, 2004)
Microsoft, Amazon Take a Phishing Trip (washingtonpost.com, Sep 29, 2004)
Silicon Still Rocks the House (washingtonpost.com, Sep 28, 2004)
More Past Issues
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A White Knight?

Could a third party enter the bidding and pluck PeopleSoft from Oracle's grasp? Don't bet on IBM, according to eWeek: "The firing of PeopleSoft Inc. CEO Craig Conway shouldn't derail the $1 billion middleware alliances with IBM that the two companies announced with much fanfare last month, industry analysts said. ... Analysts discounted the possibility that IBM would step in to take over PeopleSoft by acquiring a majority ownership in the enterprise application software business. ... 'The possibility is there that IBM might want to take a minority position in PeopleSoft, just to protect its interest, but not acquire the company outright,' said Paul Hamerman, a vice president of Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass."
eWeek: Analysts -- Can IBM-PeopleSoft Deal Stall Oracle Advance?

And you can count out Microsoft too, according to The Financial Times: "Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive, told the Financial Times that PeopleSoft did not compare with SAP, the German company Microsoft considered buying last year," the paper reported. Microsoft, of course, has plenty to worry about already as it continues its fight against stiff EU antitrust penalties...
The Financial Times: Microsoft Chief Rules Out Bid For PeopleSoft

By The Numbers

The same day that PeopleSoft got rid of its chief executive, the company gave Wall Street (and Oracle) a preview of its financial situation. The company said third-quarter license revenue is expected to fall between $155 million and $165 million and revenue will hit a range between $680 million to $695 million. "The company reported it added more than 150 new customers during the third quarter representing more than 30 percent of total license revenue. Average selling price for new customers was $454,000, up from $346,000 in the second quarter of 2004," PeopleSoft said, noting it expects net income of 3 to 4 cents a share.

That relatively good news prompted Forbes.com's Lisa DiCarlo to write: "Not even Donald Trump would dump somebody like this. Craig Conway was fired from PeopleSoft today, the same day the company announced that its third-quarter license revenue will be much better than expected."
Forbes.com: PeopleSoft's Schizophrenia

Not-So-Pleasant Town?

Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle noted that the town elders in Pleasanton, Calif., the home to PeopleSoft, are hoping they won't lose the town's biggest employer: "City officials said that losing the software company would be painful, but only modestly so because the area's economy is so diverse. 'We've got a pretty diverse base of businesses in our community,' said Tom Pico, Pleasanton's mayor. 'The loss of one of them, which is something we wouldn't want to see happen, wouldn't have a profound effect on us long term.'"
San Francisco Chronicle: Pleasanton Ponders Fate of PeopleSoft

Antipiracy Teamwork

Some of technology's biggest players are teaming up to try to stave off compatibility issues with anti-piracy software, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported today. Figuring out compatibility is a huge issue so that consumers won't be further turned off by a bevy of confusing standards as the entertainment industry battles online piracy.

The new coalition includes Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Philips Electronics, Samsung, Twentieth Century Fox, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., the Journal reported. The industry group, called Coral, "plans to develop specifications to make it easier for protected files to work with multiple devices and content services, without causing headaches for consumers," the paper said. "But Coral is starting out without two influential players: Apple Computer Inc., whose iPod device was designed to only play protected songs from its iTunes store, and Microsoft Corp., whose digital-file formats are widely used on other devices but are incompatible with Apple's. The incompatibility is partly because of differences in the companies' software for protecting copyrighted songs. More conflicts lie ahead, Coral members believe, unless hardware, software and content suppliers start doing something now."
The Wall Street Journal: Consortium Seeks Compatibility For Antipiracy Software Programs (Subscription required)

The Los Angeles Times noted that RealNetworks Inc. is also not part of the group. Another sticking point, the paper said, is that the group does not "have a proposed solution -- just a commitment to develop one in the next nine months. That won't be easy, said analyst Michael McGuire of Gartner G2, a technology research firm. If the system is too complex for a discount-store sales clerk to explain, he said, 'it's not going to work.' But neither will the status quo. Analysts and industry executives agree that though today's early adopters are savvy enough to deal with the technical headaches, average consumers won't be so forgiving and that could prevent legal downloading services from gaining traction. If Coral succeeds, the entertainment industry won't have to settle on a single anti-piracy technology, said Talal Shamoon, chief executive of Intertrust Technologies Corp., a DRM developer controlled by Sony and Philips."
The Los Angeles Times: Firms To Address Piracy Locks (Registration required)

CNET's News.com further explained the crux of the problem that Coral aims to solve: "The problem the group is tackling is the one familiar to anyone who owns Apple Computer's iPod music player and has been unable to play music purchased from an online music store operated by Napster, Microsoft or another Apple rival. DRM software that protects content such as music, movies and video games is proprietary, and many different companies now produce incompatible varieties. Participants say Coral will be aimed at creating a set of technology specifications that will let different kinds of copy protection be translated into other varieties."
CNET's News.com: Tech Powers Seek Antipiracy Accord

In other digital piracy news, Sony is no longer making copy-protected CDs, BBC News Online reported. "Sony Music Entertainment said it would stop producing the CDs because its message against illegal duplication has widely sunk in. A spokesperson said only a small part of the population illegally copy CDs. The copy protection technology was introduced two years ago by record companies who faced a sales slump and wanted to stop pirated CDs reaching the black market."
BBC News Online: Sony Abandons Copy-Protected CDs

A Hit For Cybersecurity

The Bush administration's efforts to secure cyberspace got a black eye late last week with the sudden resignation of the Department of Homeland Security's top cybersecurity official -- after he had spent just a single year in his post. "The official, Amit Yoran, a former computer security entrepreneur, told department officials on Thursday that he was leaving his post as director of the National Cyber Security Division," The New York Times reported. "High-tech industry officials have long been frustrated with the low profile of cyber security efforts within the administration. Some industry officials said Mr. Yoran had chafed at the slow pace of change in government. Mr. Yoran said he had not been frustrated in the job, and he expressed support for the administration's efforts in cyberspace." That sounds about as convincing as PeopleSoft claiming it didn't kick its chief executive to the curb to ease an imminent acquisition by Oracle.
The New York Times: Disarray Thwarts Terrorist List, Inquiry Finds (Registration required)

The Washington Post noted that Yoran is the third head of cybersecurity to leave the position. (Yoran helped found the network security company Riptech of Alexandria, Va., which was acquired by Symantec in 2002). "Cyber-security has fallen down on that totem pole," said Paul Kurtz, former White House staffer and executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, told the Post: "It's kind of symptomatic of the frustration all around."
The Washington Post: Top U.S. Cybersecurity Official Resigns (Registration required)

A statement on Yoran's departure from software group the Business Software Alliance focused on problems with the government's cybersecurity efforts. "It is even clearer today that cyber security must be properly elevated within the DHS in order to provide the necessary resources and the ability to implement policy that will better protect our information infrastructure.," BSA president and chief executive Robert Holleyman said of Yoran's exit. "During his brief tenure at DHS, Amit Yoran proved to be a strong advocate for cyber security, understanding the importance of the government and the private sector working together to address these challenges."

Ironically, October is national cybersecurity awareness month.

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.


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