Oracle CEO: Israeli companies must think 'globally'

Oracle, which built the world's first commercial relational database and today has annual revenues of $18 billion, has taken a long road to become a software market leader.

Larry Ellison, the CEO and founder of Oracle Software, the world's leading supplier of software for information management and second-largest independent software company, said on Friday that Israeli companies must constantly look to move beyond the country's borders to remain competitive in the global market. "Even though we are based in the US, we don't think of ourselves as a US company," said Ellison. "We have an R&D center here [Israel], and in Russia and India. I think of my company as a global one and that is what Israeli CEOs must do in order to compete." The Oracle founder was the guest of honor at an event organized by Oracle-Israel and Globes where he told an audience of Oracle-Israel customers, business partners, businessmen and journalists why he thinks Israel will continue to shape the world's technology. "Businessmen are successful when they question the norms that conventional wisdom espouses," Ellison said. "That is where innovation comes from - finding errors in conventional wisdom. That is what my company is built upon and that is why I think Israel will continue to be innovative - people here are always questioning what they are told," he joked. Oracle, which built the world's first commercial relational database and today has annual revenues of $18 billion, has taken a long road to become a software market leader. According to Ellison, when he founded Oracle in the late 1970s, IBM, its chief competitor, had more resources and experience in researching the field of relational databases. Relational databases store vast amounts of information, such as credit history, in a centrally located database and Oracle realized early on their potential uses. "Its amazing that I can go into a clothing store in Jerusalem - a city I have never been in, in a country I have never been in, and within a matter of seconds after giving a clerk who I have never met my credit card, he can determine if my credit is good enough to make a purchase - that is the power of our systems," Ellison said. Oracle was also the first software company to develop and deploy 100 percent Internet-enabled enterprise software across its entire product line, including databases, business applications, and application development and decision support tools. Its R&D center in Petah Tikva was built around the technology and personnel of start-up Demantra, which Oracle acquired in May 2006. The R&D center supplies Oracle with Demantra's demand-forecasting applications and integrates Demantra's products with Oracle CRM applications acquired from PeopleSoft and with ERP applications acquired from Siebel Systems. According to Oracle, Demantra provides powerful enterprise planning solutions that enable marketing, sales and supply chain to create and execute to a single, collaborative plan. Demantra Spectrum Suite manages the rapid creation, planning, fulfillment and synchronization of demand from promotion management to inventory replenishment. Ellison met here with Oracle-Israel employees and traveled to Sderot on Thursday to observe the suffering the city has faced as it has come under increased rocket attacks from Kassams fired from the Gaza Strip. While on his tour of the Negev town, Ellison promised to provide immediate aid to help reinforce a community center. When told that the project would cost $500,000, Ellison replied: "You will have the money by tomorrow." Ellison, worth an estimated $21b. and CEO of a company with annual revenues of $18b., could not always afford to give away such large sums. "When we started the company, all we had was $2,000, but we had an idea that no else had," he said. "We knew we were on the right track when everyone told us that we were crazy," he added. "Only once or twice in your life do you have to discover a flaw in conventional wisdom to do something important - that is what we did and this is something that Israeli companies are also capable of accomplishing."