Oracle Hired Detectives to Investigate Microsoft's Allies
Liedtke, Michael, THE JOURNAL RECORD
REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. -- The chairman of Oracle Corp. owned up Wednesday to hiring private investigators to look into the "covert activities" of Microsoft Corp. and insisted his company was only doing its "civic duty."
"I feel very good about what we did," Larry Ellison said, confirming that Oracle hired Investigative Group International to investigate allies of rival Microsoft.
He said the detective work showed that Microsoft paid trade and policy groups to influence public opinion during its antitrust trial.
The corporate spying allegedly included a $1,200 offer to janitors to get a peek at the trash of the Association for Competitive Technology, a trade group.
"Some of the things our investigator did may have been unsavory. Certainly from a personal hygiene point, they were. I mean, garbage ... yuck," Ellison told reporters at Oracle's headquarters.
Ellison challenged Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft to conduct a similar investigation of Oracle.
"We will ship our garbage to Redmond, and they can go through it. We believe in full disclosure," Ellison said.
Oracle said earlier that the probe proved that the Independent Institute of Oakland, Calif., and the National Taxpayers Union of Arlington, Va., "were misrepresenting themselves as independent advocacy groups, when in fact their work was funded by Microsoft for the express purpose of influencing public opinion in favor of Microsoft during its antitrust trial."
One analyst called it a Watergate-style dirty tricks campaign.
"This is a little shocking because it brings back memories of the dirty tricks that have brought down presidencies," said Josh Greenbaum of Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley. …