Marc Benioff: This Is 'The Biggest Mistake' Oracle's Mark Hurd 'Ever Made'

Marc CEO Marc Benioff

Even though signed a huge contract last summer to keep using Oracle’s products, and there was a public kiss-and-make-up session between CEO Marc Benioff and his mentor, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the two companies are still big rivals.

That was never more clear than in the remarks Benioff made to a group of reporters Wednesday evening, following a one-day roadshow event in New York.

Benioff set a 2013 goal for himself of closing more deals with large enterprise companies, reports InformationWeek’s Doug Henschen. He wanted to hire Oracle’s top sales guy, Keith Block, and had tried to recruit him for 10 years, Benioff said.

“But I couldn’t get him until [Oracle president] Mark Hurd relieved him of his duties … I think the biggest mistake Mark Hurd ever made was letting Keith Block leave Oracle, because he’s probably the best sales executives the enterprise software industry has ever seen.”

Block actually didn’t join Salesforce until he had been gone from Oracle for about a year. Sources close to Oracle tell us that Hurd wasn’t the only one involved in the decision to let him go.

Keith BlockOracleKeith Block

Block left Oracle after a controversial bunch of instant messages and e-mails from him surfaced during a lawsuit between Oracle and HP.

In the messages, Block bashed Sun hardware, saying things like “We bought a dog. Mark wants us to sell the dog. … Nobody wants to sell Sun.” In another exchange, he bashed Hurd for creating “lots of noise, not much results.”, according to MarketWatch.

Meanwhile, Oracle has been struggling to find growth under Hurd’s plans to revamp. Also, has gotten tight with HP.

HP has become a big customer and, more recently, a partner. The two have jointly created a project called the Superpod, in which large global companies can use’s cloud on HP hardware in a private area of Salesforce’s data center.

Oracle declined to comment.

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