Oracle's Cut-Throat Sales Culture Is Hurting Its Hardware Business

Larry Ellison

Photo: AP

We’ve heard from two ex-Oracle employees who say Oracle can’t get its act together with hardware.The main reason: it pits its own salespeople against each other.

“In the past two months I know of 15 Oracle salespeople that have quit — from reps to senior managers,” according to one ex-employee who quit in 2010 and still works with an Oracle reseller.

This is especially crazy because Oracle’s fiscal year ends May 31, so enterprises are renegotiating their contracts right now. “This is typically the most profitable time of year for Oracle sales,” this person told us.

But the infighting between sales reps is making them leave. “Sales folks are so frustrated and stressed out,” said the ex-employee.

It’s been two years since Oracle announced its $7.4 billion to buy Sun and so far and this has been one of the worst acquisitions in Oracle’s history. Although Oracle killed it in its last quarter, all of its growth came from software. Revenue from hardware systems dropped 16%, and overall hardware revenue (including support) dropped 11%, to $1.5 billion.

One big problem is how Oracle’s sales teams are structured, the ex-employee said. Oracle never integrated Sun salespeople into the team. Instead they pitted software sales on non-Sun systems against Sun systems. Sales teams are secretly under-cutting each other on every deal — rather than competing with the likes of HP or IBM.

This ex-employee says that for over a year and half after Oracle acquired Sun “they literally couldn’t get any hardware from Sun out to a customer. Products weren’t shipping and they couldn’t give quotes.” So customers lost faith in Sun during the period.

Meanwhile, sales folks were given big quotas to sell Oracle databases build on Intel x86 hardware, such as its Exadata and Exalytics appliances.

When they do win a hardware deal, software and hardware reps will often fight with each other over who gets the money.

Another employee who just left Oracle told us that there is “tons of infighting for who owns the customer,” and that customers are being pressured on all sides and getting fed up, too.

“I think if Larry Ellison actually paid attention to how the company is running he would make some adjustments fast … he is the only one that can call the shots and right the ship,” this second former Oracle person told us. “Has anyone noticed the growth rate of Oracle alumni on LinkedIn?”

Are you an Oracle employee or ex-employee with a story to tell? We want to hear it! We are discreet. [email protected]

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