) and Oracle (
) are the heaviest hitters in the modern corporate software market.
Anyone flipping through the pages of the Economist or other
top-shelf business magazines can see the ads that the companies
level specifically at each other.
Under the cantankerous but visionary leadership of founder Larry
Ellison, Oracle reached the third spot in total software sales
revenue, behind IBM and Microsoft.
SAP is still the top enterprise software company in the world, but
it lost a couple of key battles with Oracle recently. Most notably,
SAP was forced to
cough up $1.3 billion
to its competitor after it was caught illegally downloading
Oracle software. In fact, it even has to pay interest on that
Rumor in the industry hints that SAP might be on the auction block
for an ambitious buyer, though it would have to be a well-financed
one, because the German firm is still worth $62 billion.
"2011 is a crunch year for the management," Thomas Otter, a
research director at Gartner, told the
. "SAP has significantly improved as a company when compared with
one year ago. But what I don't know is whether this will be enough
to keep the founders happy."
One of the key drivers for the rumor comes from the fact that after
former chief executive officer Léo Apotheker stepped down, he
headed to Hewlett-Packard (
) and announced a renewed focus on software applications. In an
unrelated event last year, HP pushed out former CEO Mark Hurd over
allegations of sexual harassment and improper conduct. Larry
Ellison of Oracle then promptly brought Hurd on as president of his
firm's board of directors.
This could add a peculiar and dramatic twist to any potential
SAP-HP tie-up. However, it's important to note that
co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott strenuously
denied these rumors in the pages of the