Brad Feld

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The Sun Shines On Oracle in Colorado

Apr 20, 2009
Category Technology

Sorry – I just could not help myself when crafting that title.  I wonder if it’ll get good SEO juice.  And yes – it was a really sunny day today in Boulder.

By now everyone in the tech universe knows that Oracle has signed an agreement to acquire Sun.  I – for one – did not see that coming.  There has already been plenty of analysis on the good and the bad of it from a tech industry perspective.  However, I haven’t seen much commentary on what it means for the Colorado tech community.

If you live outside Colorado, your first reaction is probably “who cares.”  However, did you know that both companies have their second largest US operations in Colorado?  Nope, that hadn’t occurred to me either until I met with senior execs at both companies two weeks ago with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.  Think about it – two native Silicon Valley companies have their largest US operation in Colorado. 

During my two day trip to Silicon Valley with Governor Ritter, Don Elliman (head of the Colorado office of economic development), and Mike Locatis (Colorado CIO), we had about a dozen meetings.  The Sun and Oracle meetings were uniquely interesting because of the large presence each company has in Colorado.  Sun’s comes from a combination of organic growth and their acquisition of StorageTek; Oracle’s comes from organic growth and their acquisitions of PeopleSoft (which had previously acquired JD Edwards), BEA (which had a good sized operation in Boulder that resulted from two other acquisitions), and Hyperion (which had previously acquired Decisioneering).  I don’t have the exact number of total employees of both companies in Colorado but I’m guessing it’s around 10,000 with a heavy concentration of them near Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.

In both the Oracle and Sun meetings, the executives that we met with were extremely enthusiastic about their teams in Colorado.  Even if you discount their enthusiasm based on the fact they were talking to the governor of Colorado, it was sincere and substantiated by their perspectives on the capability, quality, and loyalty of their Colorado-based workforces.  It was clear that regardless of future acquisition activity, both companies had plans to continue to grow their bases in Colorado.

Now, acquisitions are always complex and this one isn’t expected to close until sometime this summer.  However, given the existing presence of both companies in Colorado, I expect there will be additional focus on the appropriate integration dynamics.  While they will likely include some rationalization of people and facilities, I expect it will be healthy for the long term growth of Colorado as a technology center, especially given the positive experiences each company has had with large workforces in Colorado.