From The Mouths Of Tech CEOs

LiarAs and Oracle CEOs Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison demonstrated last week, what CEOs say in public can rarely be taken at face value.

Following a bitter rivalry and lots of name-calling, Oracle and announced a nine-year partnership to integrate’s CRM software and Oracle’s cloud-hosted human resources and financial applications. There was no shortage of glad-handing on a recent conference call discussing the deal.

Benioff and Ellison aren’t the first CEOs to do an about-face, of course. Here are other examples of CEOs changing their tunes, sometimes dramatically.

AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley on mobile RTB:

“We’ve been supporting mobile RTB since 2010 but it’s really not significant. Mobile advertising that’s not search is something like 3 percent of display. It’s tiny.”—January 2013, PandoDaily

“The idea is to port our entire platform to mobile. To have one platform that does display and mobile seamlessly, as opposed to this current divide which is one display ecosystem and one mobile ecosystem.”—April 2013, AdExchanger CEO Marc Benioff on Email:

“How are you connected with your customer, your partners, your employees. Email? Those days are over.”—January 2013, CES keynote

“The addition of [email marketing provider] ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts in the pole position to capture this opportunity.”June 2013, press release

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on cloud computing:

“Unless the board removes me from my job…over my dead body will we sell our applications to other ASPs [application service providers].”—July 2000, Internet World press conference

“Oracle’s got 100+ enterprise applications live in the #cloud today.”—July 2012, Ellison’s first tweet

Ellison of

“You can check in but you can’t check out. It’s like an airplane, you fly into the cloud and you never get out. It’s not a good thing.”—October 2011, Oracle OpenWorld keynote

“I’m looking forward to working with Marc and Salesforce for years to come, to tap on some of these exciting challenges and help the future arrive a little bit sooner than it otherwise would.”—June 2013, joint press conference with CEO Marc Benioff

Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz of search:

“Search will continue to be an integral part of the Yahoo user experience, and we will continue to integrate search throughout all our properties, and invest in making our user experience even better based on search functionality.”—July 2009, at the announcement of Yahoo’s search partnership with Microsoft.

“We have never been a search company.”—August 2009, The New York Times

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