Where in the world is Léo Apotheker? Try Japan, Texas, and Massachusetts
There are times that we look at Oracle and head honcho Larry Ellison and just shake our heads. Oracle has been involved in a corporate espionage case against SAP for some time now, and had not until recently pursued questioning Léo Apotheker, then SAP CEO, now HP CEO. In fact, it wasn’t until Apotheker took over as HP’s chief that Oracle went after him, and this is following a nasty spat over Oracle’s hiring of Mark Hurd, Apotheker’s forced-out-of-office predecessor at HP.
So, looking to create more public relations mischief, Oracle started going after Apotheker soon after his announcement to take the HP throne, much to the dismay of both HP and SAP. The story took a turn towards the absurd early this week with a report from Reuters that Oracle had hired private investigators to track down Apotheker, who had apparently gone missing/underground since taking the HP helm. Except that he didn’t - Apotheker was spotted in Japan on late last week, where he gave an interview to the Nikkei Business Daily.
This appearance jives pretty well with Apotheker’s statement that he would begin his tenure at HP by traveling on a “listening tour” to learn more about the company he’s now heading. In fact, just this week Apotheker was reported to have popped up at HP facilities in Texas and Massachusetts. This runs counter to Oracle’s claim that he’s running from a subpoena to testify in the Oakland, California, court where their lawsuit against SAP is being tried (overseas Apotheker would be beyond the reach of the subpoena, but within the US he can be compelled to appear). Additionally, Apotheker sightings have been reported in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.
Oracle is seeking some $4 billion in damages from SAP. For it’s part, SAP has admitted some liability in the claim, but that it was Texas-based subsidiary TomorrowNow that was responsible for the theft of Oracle’s IP - and that was before SAP bought the company (though the SAP board was apparently aware of it). We don’t want to jump to any conclusions here, but judging by Ellison’s pattern of behavior since the forced resignation of Hurd, we’d hazard a guess that he’s more out to embarrass HP and Apotheker than prove Apotheker’s complicity in the suit.