Oracle's Yearly Results Good, Wasting Money on CRM Channel Partners Bad, World Cup Bery, Bery Ugly

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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Oracle's Yearly Results Good, Wasting Money on CRM Channel Partners Bad, World Cup Bery, Bery Ugly

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Steve Martin's "King Tut:"

Gotta hand it to Portugal, winning -- surviving -- one of the absolute ugliest sports events First Coffee's ever seen. I've seen pro wrestling matches and Australian Rules Football (a.k.a. No Rules Football) games conducted with more class than last night's Netherlands-Portugal World Cup match. Sharks vs. Jets couldn't have come up with noticeably more violence, real or staged.

Ref Valentin Ivanov, who must've thought he was back to officiating those Chechens vs. Russians prison matches, threw a record-tying number of yellow cards for a World Cup match, 16 in all, and four red cards, two to each side, so by the final whistle the Netherlands and Portugal were playing 9 on 9. Had the Dutch equalized during the 90 minutes they'd have been down to two-on-two drills by the end of extra time.

Some of my best friends are Dutch, but the last two matches the Dutch team played are two of the reasons soccer won't catch on in the United States: It can be stupefying boring, and players whine incessantly like spoiled brats over faked-up "fouls."

Holland's final group match against Argentina was between two teams who'd already advanced, with the winner playing Portugal and the loser Mexico. Not exactly a life or death, winner plays Togo and loser gets fed to Brazil incentive. Neither team cared who won, and boy, was it ever obvious, a 0-0 yawner where four to five starters on both sides rested out for the whole game.

You do not have that in the NFL. Regular season games are meaningful since there are so few of them, and playoffs are the best players on the field, everyone giving a damn, at all times. Even in baseball, the American sport rivaling soccer in dullness, by the time you're in the playoffs there are no rest-the-starters, "doesn't matter if we win, lose or draw" games. Just ask the 2004 Yankees.

Then in the knockout round both Portugal and Holland put on a mucking and chopping Neanderthal affair with far more flops and fakes than actual painful encounters, despite all the cards and genuinely nasty fouls. Any American who tuned into that game to give soccer another chance, 50 million Brazilians can't be wrong and all that, would click off the set reassured in their preference for the clean, sedate National Hockey League.

See, a large part of soccer game strategy is for grown men to cry for as many fake fouls as possible. The endless fake-cry-argue-complaining players do turns Americans off, we feel like yelling "Just play the game, you bunch of whiny, lying little girls!" at the screen.

Last night at one point there was incidental contact with a player's jaw. He immediately dropped to the grass, clutching his eye -- right: his eye -- like he's been shot by a deer rifle, writhing in "pain" and screaming in hopes of getting a yellow card thrown. Americans don't respect junk like that, we don't want to watch grown crybabies endlessly lying, faking and pleading for special benefits they don't deserve, we subsidize that at the United Nations every day. We like our sports to be a break from childish irresponsibility, not more of the same.

Oracle has announced that their net income for the period ended May 31 was $1.3 billion, up 27% compared to the same period last year. Life's good in Redwood Shores. The strong fourth-quarter results boosted Oracle's performance for the full year, goosing net income for the year rose 17% over 2005 totals to $3.4 billion. Revenues were up 22% to $14.4 billion. No word on when Larry Ellison will retire from running Oracle to manage his philanthropic foundation full-time.

Oracle's applications business was their fastest-growing segment in the fiscal fourth quarter, what with new software license revenue from applications in the period reaching $640 million, up 83% from the quarter a year ago. Total applications software revenues for the period hit $1.3 billion, a 66% increase from the fiscal fourth quarter of 2005.

"We saw extraordinary growth in the quarter," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on a conference call with financial analysts. "We are growing the applications business faster than SAP."

Gotta get those anti-SAP digs in there if you're writing press releases for Oracle. Ellison's taken to pronouncing it "sap," as in the stuff you make maple syrup from, instead of the vendor's preferred "ess-ay-pee."

Much of the growth in Oracle's applications business has come through acquisition. Over the past 18 months, Oracle has acquired several enterprise application vendors, including PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel. Burp.

In the fourth quarter, Siebel especially delivered a significant boost to Oracle's revenues, with the sale of Siebel CRM software for the quarter kicking in $81 million to the kitty, nearly double what Oracle had expected, said co-President and CFO Safra Catz.

No word yet on which multibillionaire will bankroll Larry Ellison's philanthropic foundation dedicated to reducing the violence in World Cup soccer.

Oracle's applications business, however, also saw significant organic growth during the quarter. Excluding revenues from Siebel and Oracle's Retek acquisition, Catz said, license revenue from the company's applications business grew 56%.

Oracle officials, however, stopped short of declaring the growth of its applications business an indication that businesses generally are opening up IT spending. "We can't tell at this point if it's an IT spending indication or a direct response to the state of the economy or people getting more comfortable with Oracle and buying more products," Catz cautioned. "But it does seem more Oracle-specific."

No word yet on whether Larry Ellison, uh, has a philanthropic foundation.

Oracle's cost of providing services, however, also grew by 24% during the quarter. Catz attributed part of that increase to the cost of maintaining the on-demand CRM service which Oracle acquired along with Siebel. Catz said the contractor providing Siebel's on-demand infrastructure had not reduced costs commensurate with the increasing scale of that business. Oracle plans to move the CRM on-demand infrastructure, Catz said. Siebel had previously identified IBM as the provider of its CRM on-demand infrastructure.

No word yet on whether or not Larry Ellison throws quarters to street beggars, or asks for change when he does so, or establishes that the beggar has not received any compensation from SAP before doing so.

DiamondCluster International, which earns its keep as a management consulting firm, has recently conducted a profitability analysis of one key marketing channel deployed by a major consumer services company, finding that… 86 percent of the $30 million being invested annually in that company's channel partner program was poorly spent because proper measurement was missing from the equation.

No word yet on whether Larry Ellison's philanthropic foundation, currently working to serve the needs of under-30 Stanford-educated beauty queens, is responsible.

The firm's newest white paper, "Profitable Channels: The Right Metrics Make All the Difference," reveals how to conduct an effective marketing channel check-up and capture millions of dollars in direct and indirect opportunity. To request a copy of the white paper, send an e-mail to

"Often times the data executives need to evaluate marketing channels and negotiate deals is easier to get than they think," claims Bill Abbott, a partner in Diamond's telecom practice who spearheaded the analysis. And rooting out those truffles "doesn't necessarily require a multi-million dollar CRM system or even IT department involvement."

No word yet on whether Larry Ellison can spell "philanthropy" without breaking into uncontrolled giggles. "Philanthropy? Yeah, give Tom Siebel half-price off the lunch buffet in the company cafeteria, there's your philanthropy."

You'll have to get the whole report for all the goodies, but suffice it to say that dropping unprofitable partners can, just as you suspected, immediately generate millions of dollars in cost savings: Diamond found that only 10 of the 74 partnerships were contributing value to the firm, an insight that quickly led to an increase in net channel value of $6 million per year.

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