Oracle can buy anything except a vision


On Monday, Oracle (orcl) announced that it would acquire MICROS Systems for $4.6 billion, giving the enterprise software giant entre into the highly lucrative restaurant and hospitality industries, The buy also served to reverse the Street's waning faith in ORCL stock, which rose moderately on Monday after a bruising Friday trading session. Why was the Street happy? It wasn't because MICROS solves any of Oracle's particular problems, but because Oracle had found something to spend its money on that it could make more money with. Oracle does that a lot, it should be noted, and some say the giant has become too unfocused and diluted as a result.

As in most of the software industry, the trend in enterprise software is toward mobile and cloud based computing solutions, and Oracle has been moving in that direction as well. The trouble is that it is very hard to steer a train like Oracle, which is a massive amalgam of software systems. Not only do Oracle's software platforms address different needs, they were created, in some cases by different companies with different philosophies.

Oracle's largest acquisition was, of course, Sun Microsystems in 2010, and believe it or not, Oracle acquired 37 other companies between buys of Sun and MICROS. Perhaps when President Obama said "You didn't build that," to business owners, he should have added, "…Larry Ellison!"

Perhaps it the nature of enterprise software, but Oracle seems, at times, purely opportunistic. There never was any grand design, and there isn't one now. That lack of clear vision, plus my sense that the company tends to be deeply loathed by its customers, is enough to keep me away for now.

Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC .

This article was originally published on

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Technology

Referenced Stocks: ORCL

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