Our Record in China Speaks for Itself

By Ken Glueck, Executive Vice President, OracleMay 3, 2021

I think it would be helpful to start with a point of agreement. The reference to seeking information on Mara Hvistendahl in my blog was wrong. It was poor judgment. I never wanted or expected any information on the reporter from anyone. The reference was meant tongue-in-cheek as a parody of the reporter’s requests, via Twitter and in her articles, for information regarding Oracle. The reporter is entitled to do her job. The “parody” wasn’t amusing. I take personal responsibility for it, and I apologize.

We also agree that our two responses were pointed. We never disagreed with the fact that the reporter discovered some provocative Power Point presentations from Oracle sales and marketing employees in China. We authenticated them, and we took responsibility for them. However, it turns out that the reporter’s conclusions were unfounded, and our responses reflected frustration with the reporting, which among other things implied (incorrectly) that Oracle was involved with “the systematic persecution of Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities,” which we unequivocally condemn. So, yes, these stories deserved firm responses. We stand by every single word and the principle that any reporter’s target has a right to respond with actual facts and rational analysis.

We continue to disagree with the claims made in The Intercept’s reporting about Oracle. We welcome anyone to read the full transcript of the “contentious” interview that The Intercept recently posted. It is true that we don’t accept the reporter’s premise, but the interview was a polite rebuttal of the items The Intercept got wrong. The reporter might not have agreed with our responses, but that hardly makes an interview contentious. The transcript speaks for itself.

From an editorial standpoint, The Intercept is an aggressive publication, and its subjects of course have a right to defend themselves. We should all agree that evenhandedness has its place in public discourse. In this case, the reporter put us on a tight timeline, insisted any response would need to be on the record, and sent us dozens of pages of documents, many of them in Mandarin. We acted as quickly as possible under challenging circumstances. We responded with details and information that we think have been disregarded, and we think it fair to make that point.

However, there is obviously no point in getting into another round of back and forth, so we will just address one emblematic and objectively verifiable error that exemplifies the kind of undisciplined reporting that led to errors and assumptions elsewhere in the story. This regards the reporter’s statement that we were “ramping up our business in Asia.” In The Intercept’s latest article about our exchange, the editor insisted that the publication’s reporting in this section was completely accurate.

Here’s the entirety of what was written by the reporter in the story:

“In 2012, company President Mark Hurd told investors on an earnings call that Oracle was ‘ramping up’ its business in Asia. Then the Snowden documents threw Oracle’s China work into limbo. [emphasis added.] From a hotel in Hong Kong, Snowden helped reveal that the NSA had obtained access to the systems of Apple, Facebook, Google, and other companies. The news spooked Chinese government officials, who worried that a reliance on U.S. technology made China vulnerable to American spying.”

Here’s an extended quote from the transcript of the earnings call to provide more context regarding what Mark Hurd said:

“Okay, I appreciate the—it sounded like almost a 9-part question. I’ll do my best, Kash, to try to get at it and I tried to say this. I think around here, we’re just really excited about Exalytics. The Exalytics product was GA-ed a couple of weeks before the end of the quarter? A couple of weeks before the end of the quarter, we got it out. Frankly, we started to sell it, frankly, just pre-GA, we had so much interest in it and we had very strong bookings in that last 10-day period. We’re off and running in the U.S. We’re off and running in Europe. We’re ramping up now in Asia. We’re aligning that to our BI salesforce as Larry described, the ability for us to take existing Oracle BI applications and they just run. So compared to this other thing that was talked about earlier where you buy it and then you start programming on it, this is a completely different value proposition than the thing that was being asked about earlier. Exalogic has ramped. It quadrupled as I described in my comments earlier. It is having tremendous success in that SOA [“service oriented architecture”] area, as well as with our applications and the ability for it to now plug in Oracle applications, in some cases run 4x and 5x faster than you were running Oracle applications before you deployed Exalogic into that architecture. Exadata has continued to ramp and again, we saw another one of these gains where we doubled and as I talked about over the last several quarters, we’ve done that continually every quarter. I expect a very, very strong Exadata quarter in Q4 as well.”

The discussion above was very clearly about rolling out a new product line, Exalytics, in Asia (after it had been released in North America and Europe), not about business in general.

The reporter adds the word “business,” which is not “paraphrasing,” as the editor claims. It changes the meaning of the statement to fit the reporter’s thesis. When something so easily proven false is argued repeatedly by the editor, it should raise concerns about other liberties taken by the reporter but sanctioned by the editor. Adding words that change the meaning of a quote is no way to fill in gaps in reporting.

The public record is what it is and we are happy to stand behind it.

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