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Oracle Private Eyes Hunt HP CEO, Says Reuters

Where in the world is Leo Apotheker?

Oracle has yet to put a bounty on his head but it would likely pay to know definitely where HP's out-of pocket new CEO is.

According to Reuters, quoting an unidentified source, Oracle has hired private investigators to locate the man.

The wire service said that Oracle's star attorney David Boies said outside the court that "it was important for the jury to hear Leo Apotheker (pictured) in person, and "appropriate" to locate him, but wouldn't discuss the hunt. "The more detail we go into publicly, the less chance we have to find him," he was quoted as saying Monday.

The Wall Street Journal said Boies said the hunt had "nothing to do with Hewlett-Packard," which maintains Oracle is harnessing the guy, only that Apotheker was at the "center of the infringement" at SAP, getting "individual reports" on many of TomorrowNow's actions.

Oracle's hoping to find elusive Mr. Apotheke in the US so it can serve him with a subpoena and drag him into court to testify about what he knew and when he knew it concerning the large-scale theft of Oracle software by TomorrowNow, the SAP subsidiary.

Apotheker was sales chief, then co-CEO and finally sole CEO when all the mischief was going on. He was supposedly responsible for using TomorrowNow, a third-party maintenance arm selling support on the cheap, to poach Oracle customers.

Apotheker got the HP job last month and only officially started work last Monday, November 1.

Oracle says HP and Apotheker's own lawyers have refused service of the subpoena, which couldn't have surprised Ellison any since he prophesied that HP would keep him out of circulation until after the trial.

Ellison publicly held Apotheker responsible for the TomorrowNow shenanigans in two statements he made before the trial started.

Ellison testified at the packed copyright trial Monday that if SAP had tried to license the software it illegally downloaded it would have cost $4 billion. But that was only a hypothetical, he said, because such a deal would have undermined Oracle's business. SAP could have lured 20%-30% of Oracle's newly acquired PeopleSoft accounts away. Oracle couldn't document the figure.

Answering a question posed by Boies, his own lawyer, Ellison said if Oracle's software wasn't protected by copyrights Oracle would be close to going out of business and if SAP could get Oracle software for free "we'd have a hard time paying our 100,000 employees...they could make a very credible offer to all of our customers."

SAP found it odd that discovery had turned up no evidence of Ellison's alleged initial concern over SAP's $10 million acquisition of TomorrowNow in 2005 and Ellison reportedly retorted, "I would never write anything like that down."

SAP has other Oracle e-mail and financial presentations initially minimizing the TomorrowNow threat. Oracle co-president Safra Catz later testified that Oracle had to work especially hard to keep customers from defecting to TomorrowNow and it needed to retain them to cover the $11 billion it paid for PeopleSoft. Part of Oracle's allure was its IP, which SAP couldn't replicate.

Although Oracle claims it lost 358 customers to SAP because of TomorrowNow, Ellison couldn't name one of them.

SAP will contend that Oracle would have lost them anyway because of customer unease when Oracle bought PeopleSoft and JD Edwards and in fact it retained more than it thought it would.

Oracle is asking the court for $2.3 billion in damages; SAP, which has admitted it's liable, only wants to pay $40 million. Catz called that offer "a reward for bad behavior."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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