December 08, 2000, 12:26 PM — Redwood Shores, Calif. - An Oracle press conference intended as a
showcase for its Oracle Internet Application Server 8i middleware offering took on a
somewhat surreal aspect Wednesday, as company CEO Larry Ellison was peppered with
questions on the company's admitted role in a private investigation intended to uncover
material unfavorable to Microsoft.
The firm did manage to get some news in about a host of mid-tier software offerings
before the deluge of Microsoft-related questions carried the day. Ellison was
unflappable and apparently unrepentant.
Speaking to a crowd of reporters jammed into a conference room at Oracle
headquarters, Ellison was unapologetic as he defended his company's decision to hire
Washington-based Investigative Group International (IGI) to uncover the financial
connection between Microsoft and several lobbying and trade groups.
"It is absolutely true that we set out to expose Microsoft's covert
activities," Ellison said. "Microsoft has been spending a tremendous amount
of money on these organizations... and we thought it was important to get that
At one point, Ellison described the undertaking as "a civic duty."
Ellison produced what he called "a cheat sheet," from which he read the
names of organizations to which he said Microsoft gave substantial amounts
of money. The list included the Association for Competitive Technologies,
Americans for Technology Leadership, the Independent Institute, the National
Taxpayers' Union, and Citizens for a Sound Economy.
"These organizations pretended to be independent, pretended to represent American
citizens and taxpayers and America's technology industry, but they were none of the
above. [These organizations] did not exist until the Microsoft antitrust trial.
They were bought and paid for by Bill Gates and [Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer,"
Ellison charged that these organizations published "bogus polls and false
economic reports," which asserted "whatever was good for Microsoft was good
"It was our intent to expose that...Microsoft is creating front
organizations," Ellison said, "and there's no reason for us to deny that. We
believe in full disclosure. I feel very good about telling you what we did."
The financial ties between Microsoft and two of the groups -- the Independence
Institute and the National Taxpayers Union -- were previously reported by the Wall
Street Journal and the Washington Post. In a prepared statement issued
yesterday, Oracle admitted to hiring IGI after the publication of newspaper reports
that investigators tried to pay two cleaning women $1,200 for trash from the
Association for Competitive Technology.