Did you hear Oracle bought Sun?

April 21st, 2009
Author: Joe Becker

sun_logo_whiteoracle_useSteve Lohr at the NY Times wrote a nice concise piece outlining the Sun/Oracle merger announcement this morning. I was going to write a short blurb on what this means for the technology sector and how HP and IBM now have a true third competitor in the enterprise level hardware/software/solutions space. Furthermore I was thinking I would try and talk about a $10 a share offer versus a $9.50 or what this may mean: “The combined company, according to Oracle and Sun executives, will be able tweak and integrate its software to reduce costs and bugs, and to tighten security. Sun’s computer designers, they said, can tailor hardware to the combined company’s software, promising further gains in efficiency.”

However, I think the most interesting part of the story right now is in the comments section of Lohr story. As of 8:50 am ET there’s over 50 comments (with recommendations on nearly all) talking about this merger, jobs, the future of MySQL, Larry Ellison’s empire, Open Source vs. operating systems, Java opportunities, Et cetera. Check out the comments section for yourself, large scale news clearly attracts reader response, but merger talks drive the conversation into 5th gear. That said, I went to the Sun (a former client) and Oracle website to see how they were addressing/communicating this major news with customers, partners, employees and the industry. Oracle has a dedicated page on the site that’s easy to find and flush with official statements/safe harbor statements in pdf format; here’s the Q&A and here’s a presentation on what the merger means for customers/partners. I didn’t see any social community engagement, perhaps I could visit the Sun website for that kind of engagement. Sun’s site also had the news front and center with a link to the press release and their engaging newsroom. From the newsroom on Sun’s site I could access Jonathan Schwartz’s blog which didn’t address the merger (in fact none of the company blogs did); their Twitter linked to the press release, Facebook didn’t say anything (but they do have nearly 10,000 fans), they didn’t have anything on their Second Life page or on the YouTube channel or anything easy to find on their many forums/discussion boards. Clearly Sun has some very engaging and cool social media programs (and I’m sure Oracle does somewhere as well) but I think this is a big miss by both these companies and other brands who announce mergers on the same day as Sun/Oracle (GSK & Stiefel).

Communicating at the individualized mass level, via digital networks, is of critical importance at this time for these two companies; not only for their investor messages or customer messages but for the industry, products and people for whom they have a responsibility. I don’t blame Oracle or Sun, I know very well how busy a merger can be for communications professionals , but I think we can take a lesson here for the future on how to integrate social media into your merger communications plan. Furthermore, leveraging social media as a function to not only share this news but to communicate what it means for the many different groups who are impacted (i.e., in this case MySQL, Java, open source, et cetra) would be prudent and a better function for their many different Facebook/Twitter/forum assets already in place.

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