Scott Monty, head of social media Ford Motor Company, revealed yesterday that he was sent an envelope containing documents that portray cloud CRM provide Salesforce.com in a negative light. The envelope was stamped with an Oracle logo.
"Hey Oracle, you think sending me an anonymous letter trashing your competition is the way to earn my business?" Monty wrote on Facebook yesterday afternoon. "Think again."
He posted photographs of several print-outs; including a NetworkWorld story about a Salesforce.com outage; a tweet by CEO Marc Benioff criticising the US automotive industry; and a story about former Renault chief operating officer Patrick Pelata, who stepped down following a corporate espionage scandal, joining Salesforce.com.
"Wow, I have never seen anything like that," Benioff commented on Monty's Facebook post.
Denise Boyer, a senior PR manager at Oracle, wrote: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. On behalf of Oracle's PR team, we do not condone these tactics and can assure you that we are investigating the source of this letter."
As many commenters pointed out, it would not be difficult for someone to get hold of an Oracle envelope in a bid to damage their reputation. As a social media blogger with a wide following, Monty would make a good target for that kind of negative publicity campaign.
The rivalry between Oracle and Salesforce.com has been very public, bordering on the theatrical. At Oracle's OpenWorld conference last year, Benioff's keynote was cancelled at the last minute, giving him the opportunity to generate yet more publicity by staging it in a nearby restaurant.
Clearly, though, Oracle takes the threat of disruption by Salesforce.com, and SaaS providers like it, very seriously. Having initially dismissed cloud computing as a fad, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has since attempted to reposition Oracle as an enterprise cloud services provider.
In its most recent financial quarter, Oracle's cloud revenues totalled $222 million, putting it on track to earn approaching $1 billion from the cloud this year.