NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson had to deal with an awkward situation Tuesday at his company’s SuiteWorld 2013 conference in San Jose, Calif.
Norm Fjeldheim, CIO of Qualcomm, said during a keynote that he’s found NetSuite to be a better fit for Qualcomm’s needs than Oracle.
Qualcomm is a customer of both NetSuite and Oracle.
Then Fjeldheim described Oracle as a “dinosaur” and suggested that Oracle and SAP should be scared of NetSuite, Ben Kepes, a New Zealand-based tech consultant who is at the event, told Business Insider.
This had to be an awkward moment for Nelson. His ex-boss, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, is the majority shareholder of NetSuite. After Fjeldheim’s remarks, Nelson tried to downplay the notion of a NetSuite-Oracle rivalry.
Last October, NetSuite and Oracle hammered out an agreement to prevent them from running into each other in the marketplace. They agreed that Oracle would pitch its Fusion apps to large enterprises, while NetSuite would go after the midsized market, as well as smaller business units within enterprises.
“If Oracle and NetSuite are [at] the same table, one of us in wrong deal,” Nelson told Business Insider at the time.
Qualcomm has around 26,000 employees worldwide, so it’s definitely a large enterprise. If Qualcomm’s CIO is claiming NetSuite can meet his company’s needs, that suggests NetSuite is plenty capable of competing with Oracle head-to-head.
Fjeldheim has been with Qualcomm since 1987 and was named CIO in 1999. He has previously sat on Oracle’s CIO Advisory Board, and was quoted in a 2008 article on Oracle’s website praising the company’s acquisition of Agile, a vendor of software that companies use to manage key products.
Kepes, for his part, doesn’t agree with Fjeldheim’s characterization. “Oracle and SAP are still the backbone of large enterprises, so this criticism rings a little hollow,” he said.
An Oracle spokesperson declined to comment on Fjeldheim’s remarks.