Imagine you’re running a venerable industrial company that’s been around for decades, is entrenched with its customers, and has a reputation for operational excellence. You’ve just made $2.7 billion in one quarter on sales of $9.6 billion. Your company is barely growing—sales were up 1% year-over-year and operating income was just a smidge better, up 3%. Your results were somewhere better than Wall Street expected.
Would you be shocked if investors bid down your shares 4% in the hours after you reported results?
If your company was enterprise software stalwart Oracle you wouldn’t be surprised at all. Oracle has been asserting for years that it was onto this cloud computing thing—mere years after asserting that cloud computing was a bunch of hooey. The Silicon Valley company’s third fiscal quarter results show plainly that this software emperor has no cloud clothes. (Sorry, it’s Friday.)
It’s impossible to know how good or bad Oracle’s cloud business really is because it combines the results with other business lines. “Cloud,” by the way, refers to software sold as an online subscription, compared with the programs Oracle sold for decades to customers who then ran the software themselves.
What’s totally clear is that the upstarts that have been coming after Oracle for years are no longer mere ankle biters. This 5-year-chart shows how Oracle has fared against Salesforce.com, whose market capitalization of more than $120 billion is now in the same area code as Oracle’s $190 billion.