Here is the transcript of a phone call that never happened (I imagined this word for word) when Larry Ellison canceled Marc Benioff's keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld 2011.
Benioff's iPhone ringing [Cloud music, loud music – Metallica]
Benioff: Hi, Larry. What's up?
Ellison: I want to make you more famous.
Benioff: I'd like that; tell me more.
Ellison: I found a way to get you more publicity than you ever thought possible for your speech tomorrow.
Benioff, chuckling: What's your idea?
Ellison: Simple – I'll cancel your speech.
Benioff: What?! You want to shut me out?
Benioff: Come again?
Ellison: The press loves a fight. Remember when Rosie O'Donnell fought with Donald Trump? The press covered that for months.
Benioff: You are a genius.
Ellison: It takes one to know one.
Benioff: Agreed. Remember Sun Tzu? He said, "All warfare is based on deception."
Ellison: No, Marc, it's all about perception. We make the press believe that we are fighting, and they'll cover us play by play. I throw the first punch by canceling your speech last minute, and you play the injured party crying foul.
Ellison: Great idea! You're catching on fast.
Benioff: And I will invite the press to the St. Regis next door and promise to deliver a strong message.
Ellison: Yes, keep on spinning this story. I like where this is going!
Benioff: Are you ok with my saying that Oracle doesn't get the Cloud?
Ellison: As long as you don't mind my saying that your Salesforce Cloud is really a farm of 1,500 Dell boxes strung together.
Benioff: Right on! You're the bad cop, you pitch your boxes, and I’m the good cop, I pitch the Cloud story.
Ellison: Sounds good to me.
Benioff: This is going to cost you a few bucks.
Ellison: What do you mean?
Benioff: I paid you a million bucks for the sponsorship.
Ellison: I'll send you a check.
Benioff: For $2 million?
Ellison: Are you nuts?
Benioff: If you want me to be your foil, you'll have to pay me something.
Benioff: If you don't want to do this, I will bring a gaggle of reporters and walk into Oracle world with duct tape over my mouth with writing on it that says, "Silenced by Oracle," and then the joke is on you.
Ellison, laughing uncontrollably…snorting: Marc, you crack me up. I will send you two checks, one for $1 million made out to salesforce.com, the other one for $100,000 for your foundation. Deal?
Full disclosure: The above is a fictional account of a conversation that never took place. Below is the detailed account of what really happened, according to Marc Benioff.
"Our Cloud's a little bit different. It's both platform-as-a-service and applications-as-a-service. The key part is that our Cloud is based on industry standards and supports full interoperability with other Clouds. Just because you go to the Cloud doesn't mean you forget everything about information technology from the past twenty years.
"In contrast, salesforce.com's Force.com platform is the 'roach motel' of Cloud services, amounting to the ultimate vendor lock-in, due to its use of custom programming languages like APEX. In contrast, the Oracle Public Cloud uses Java, SQL, XML, and other standards."
The bottom line: Both billionaires got their say, and the press got a great story.