The Oracle Translation Engine: Deciphering Earnings Call Doublespeak

In case you missed it, Oracle missed their Wall Street numbers last week. This bad news from Redwood Shores led to some frantic hand-waving on the part of CEO Larry Ellison, CFO Safra Catz and President Mark Hurd. As you might expect, there was plenty of public company executive doublespeak to go around.

Fortunately, I’m here to translate. So I brushed off my snark machine and took a closer look at some of Oracle’s key pronouncements:

Oracle said: “Despite the lackluster quarter, Oracle’s outlook for the next quarter is in line with Wall Street expectations.”

Translation: We’ve been doing whatever we can to lower Wall Street expectations.

Oracle said: “Our last major software acquisition was more than five years ago.”

Translation: We spent tons of money during the 2000s acquiring our way to a SOA Suite that ended up emulating Dr. Frankenstein: buy a bunch of parts and hope for lightning.

Oracle said: “Our success in the cloud is significant and undeniable.”

Translation: We’re achieving modest success convincing companies the managed hosting we’re hawking is actually Cloud.

Oracle said: “Some of SAP’s largest customers bought Exadata, not HANA.”

Translation: HANA sucks even worse than Exadata.

Oracle said: “Virtually all of [our new sales team hires] will go to our cloud businesses.”

Translation: There’s no sense assigning them to selling our older products. No one could sell that sh*t.

Oracle said: “Oracle database and Java are the two most important platforms on the face of the Earth for building applications.”

Translation: It’s really important to Oracle’s bottom line that customers still buy our ancient, Cloud-unfriendly database and our ancient, Web-unfriendly programming environment.

Oracle said: “We think our PaaS business is one of our huge competitive advantages.”

Translation: Paying as you go for our Java tools in a managed hosting environment is PaaS. No really, it’s PaaS. Please believe us!

Oracle said: “We don’t think any of the cloud players can compete with us at the platform layer.”

Translation: Amazon wouldn’t be caught dead selling the heavyweight crap we’ve been unloading on customers for years.

Oracle said: “When someone chooses an Oracle application in the cloud versus an Oracle application on-premise, we make more money over time.”

Translation: Our customers will never save money by buying our supposed Cloud-based offerings. They’ll only end up paying us more.

Oracle said: “We just don’t lose deals.”

Translation: We’ve been losing customers at a fast clip. Please don’t notice.

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