Acquisitions, Culture, and the Social Web

I don’t cover the enterprise space, but my colleague Ray Wang says that the Sun acquisition will be successful for Oracle, check out his blog post to read his highlights.  

While I’ll leave the specifics of the product and company integration to him, I want to focus on the cultures, and how it impacts their social programs.  Anyone reading this blog knows this is important as it’s essentially how they’ll communicate with customers and employees.

Sun has a long history of being open, through their technology, executives that blog, and the thousands of employees that participate in one way or another in the social web.  On the other hand, Oracle, which I observe to have a culture of top down management has been slower to embrace the social web.  To their credit, in the last few years, they’ve hosted a Lunch 2.0, launched an innovation piece, a social network called Mix, and have a thriving community in OTN.  It goes beyond just technology though, true transparency from Sun is rare, and difficult for many companies to achieve.

What happens next is what’s interesting.  Will Oracle adopt some of the open Sun culture, will Larry start to participate in the direct conversations with the market? Will the Sun culture simply be wrapped under the red banners? Or will it end up like Peoplesoft, those that integrate well shuffle in line.  

In reality, we’ll see a little bit of both.  Because of Sun’s strong hardware focus (where Oracle doesn’t yet play), those existing customers have come to expect that same type of open discussion to occur.  Where we may see a bit of lean towards Oracle culture, is likely where the software products are.  

Key takeaways

  • We know that culture is the biggest driver or detractor when it comes to companies adopting social technologies.
  • How companies deploy social programs is often a direct mirror of how the company is managed from the top down.
  • As mergers occur, expect the social programs to morph, expect some of Sun’s openness to reduce, and some of Oracle’s culture to continue to open up.