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Ellison skips speech, angers users

Larry Ellison may have enjoyed watching Oracle Team USA win the America's Cup, but his decision to watch a yacht race instead of speaking to his customers may have hurt his company.

Many users who paid handsome fees to attend Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco last month felt short-changed when the Oracle CEO skipped his conference-closing keynote to watch the America's Cup regatta on San Francisco Bay.

Ellison's Oracle Team USA was in the midst of an eight-race winning streak that culminated in a comeback victory against New Zealand. But Oracle customers didn't seem to care.

"He shouldn't have done that," said Chris Laxmi, a database administrator who waited in line for 20 minutes to get into the closing session. "I'm disappointed."

Thomas Kurian, Oracle's executive vice president of product development, filled in for Ellison, but many attendees left when they learned that the CEO had canceled.

"I felt like the America's Cup thing was more important [to Ellison] than the event," said Boris Aguirre, a systems integrator from Ecuador who stood in line for almost 40 minutes to see Ellison. "From the perspective of my clients, it was not good."

Ellison's move did little for Oracle's customer relations, said analyst Michael Krigsman of consulting firm Asuret. "While Oracle asks customers to prioritize its products over competitors, Ellison made the decision that racing, his passion and hobby, is more important than customers," Krigsman said via email.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.

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