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The on again off again stoush between Oracle's and Salesforce's bosses has hit new levels of farce with Oracle head Larry Ellison now accused of cancelling the keynote speech scheduled to be delivered by Salesforce CEO and chairman Marc Benioff . But rather than silencing the rival, the clumsily handled cancellation has almost certainly delivered Mr Benioff with a much larger and global audience for his presentation which will now be delivered at a different location but streamed live on Salesforce's website.

Mr Benioff had been scheduled to deliver a keynote address at Oracle's OpenWorld 2011 conference currently underway in San Francisco, until Oracle pulled the plug at the 11th hour. Mr Benioff issued a tweet early afternoon saying that 'Larry (Ellison) just cancelled my keynote tomorrow!'

There's no love lost between the two CEOs who have traded barbs on a number of occasions in the past, especially as Salesforce started to encroach on the database market - Oracle's traditional turf.

Salesforce issued a media release confirming the keynote cancellation, but noting that Mr Benioff intended to deliver his presentation and invite questions from the media at the swanky St Regis hotel in San Francisco. A spokeswoman for Oracle in Australia said she had no further information and was not able to comment.

Mr Benioff was quoted in the Salesforce release saying; 'Oracle just cancelled my keynote tomorrow. But the show must go on! Everyone is welcome to join me at Ame Restaurant tomorrow to hear about the social enterprise. Sorry Larry, the cloud can't be stopped.'

A report in the New York Times meanwhile quoted Oracle sources saying that the problem arose when Mr Benioff's session had to be rescheduled to a later time. Mr Benioff had countered by saying he was not available at that time.

Instead of accepting the alternative time on offer (which allegedly was a graveyard slot)  Mr Benioff has cannily harnessed social media to capitalise on Oracle's scheduling mix-up, and trumpet his alternative venue.

He also told the NYT that Oracle had refunded the $1 million that Salesforce had stumped up in order to deliver the keynote.


 

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Beverley Head

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Beverley Head is a Sydney-based freelance writer who specialises in exploring how and why technology changes everything - society, business, government, education, health. Beverley started writing about the business of technology in London in 1983 before moving to Australia in 1986. She was the technology editor of the Financial Review for almost a decade, and then became the newspaper's features editor before embarking on a freelance career, during which time she has written on a broad array of technology related topics for the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Boss, BRW, Banking Day, Campus Review, Education Review, Insite and Government Technology Review. Beverley holds a degree in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials from Oxford University and a deep affection for things which are shaken not stirred.

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