Posted May 16, 2010 12:30 am by with 10 comments

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This week one of the richest and most influential men in business and the world, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Systems, gave his opinion on corporate blogging. Well, at least he gave his opinion on one attempt at corporate blogging and it strikes right at the core of some things that the social media and Internet marketing communities claim as near and dear to their heart.

Ellison attacked what many have held up as one of the prime examples of a company creating content through executive blogs and more. In fact, he didn’t just attack it; he crushed it.

The focus is on the Sun Microsystems purchase that was completed in January of this year. Sun’s former CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who resigned his post with a tweeted haiku in February of this year, has gotten a lot of attention for his CEO level outreach through blogs. I have even admired it. A quote from Ellison though, makes it clear what his stance is on the matter. This comes from InformationWeek.

“The underlying engineering teams are so good, but the direction they got was so astonishingly bad that even they couldn’t succeed,” said Ellison. “Really great blogs do not take the place of great microprocessors. Great blogs do not replace great software. Lots and lots of blogs does not replace lots and lots of sales.”

Sun became the poster child for content creation that came from all parts of the company. Trouble is the company lost $2.2 billion last year so Mr. Ellison may have a point here. It’s like writing a journal while the Titanic sank. If someone actually read it there may be value but the bigger issue of impending death outweighs it by far.

I think Ellison views this corporate foray into blogging as if Schwartz is a modern day Nero. As Sun Microsystems crashed and burned around him he was blogging much like the Roman emperor played his lyre while Rome was being consumed by fire. I wonder how he feels about the efforts by Oracle execs to blog? Is that adding to the bottom line of Oracle these days?

So is this call for transparency and openness throughout companies really necessary if it doesn’t add to the bottom line? Or could it be argued that if there wasn’t the blogs that kept some Sun customers engaged that the company may have failed even more severely?

Were there any metrics in place to see what effect the culture of blogging at Sun had on the bottom line? If not, was this just a spectacular PR play that got people to pay attention to Sun’s willingness to “communicate” rather than concentrate on keeping the business afloat?

We would LOVE to hear from any current or former Sun bloggers or employees to get your take on this. There are more questions being posed here than answers so any help would be appreciated. Did this culture of blogging cover up a bad business plan that was doomed to fail despite some of the best engineering talent as Mr. Ellison claims or was it really just as exiting CEO Schwartz said in his farewell tweet.

Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more

I think if you asked Larry Ellison he’d tweet

Wrote too many posts / While company crashed and burned / There’s the door use it

So what’s your take and if you can give it in a 5/7/5 syllable format then you get extra points for having nothing better to do this fine day.

  • Certainly blogging by anyone in a company, from the CEO on down, is not going to fix problems with products or services. I think most of us can agree Ellison’s comments are true in that respect. Sun’s problems go back much further than anyone’s blogging efforts. However, good companies with good products and services can certainly benefit from the openness and dialog blogs can offer.

    While not blogs per se, I can see where Oracle has benefited tremendously from their communities and other online efforts. While a word or two from Ellison once in a while wouldn’t be amiss, perhaps his point would have been made better if he’d pointed out that blogging is not for him and doesn’t really fit in Oracle’s culture. It certainly works for many other companies.
    .-= Elmer´s last blog ..Online Privacy Stories – Tempest In A Teapot? =-.

  • Blogging is just really starting to go mainstream for corporate america. This may open up new jobs and positions for job seekers
    .-= Impulse Magazine´s last blog ..What Russell Crowe thinks about his new movie =-.

  • ac

    Were there any metrics? Hysterical. Sun didn’t have any metrics to see if they were selling hardware at a profit.

    Sun didn’t have the math ability to see how they could make money on MySQL when it cost $1B+.

    Oracle execs can blog b/c Oracle is wildly profitable. You will probably note that few mid-level sales managers are blogging tho….


  • C.E.O. Blogging.
    Can Create An Epic Mess.
    Schwartz Should Know Better.

  • I suppose there can be a downside to blogging, but that can happen with any business communication. It sounds like the argument may be more about the quality and measurement of return, or lack thereof. If you are losing billions and there is any suspicion of blogging holding a place in that, for bad or for good, measurement of the communication should certainly come into focus. Making rash decisions or assumptions either way is not a good answer.
    .-= Mark Aaron Murnahan´s last blog ..7 SEO Guarantees: Yes, Guaranteed SEO Can Be Legitimate! =-.

  • Good execs don’t blog
    but being in Iron Man
    well, that’s OK, no?
    .-= April Dunford´s last blog ..Top 5 Reasons Your Marketing Stinks =-.

  • Social Media is a communication channel, not a plan to reverse bad management decisions. One can tweet and blog and be super open with their customers and still be a bad leader. Folks who successfully use social media use the tweets, blogs and other conversations to fuel management changes to better serve the customer. That’s the part that Schwartz failed to see. Don’t blame social media, Ellison. Blame the man using it.

    Or, in 5/7/5 format:
    Ellison is wrong. Sure, Schwartz failed at leading Sun. But blogs aren’t to blame.
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..How 4Q and Google Analytics Teamed Up to Show You "Why" =-.

  • The string of 5/7/5 formatted answers is very cool.

    Thanks for participating!
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Business Blogging to Support Sales Efforts =-.

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