back to article Former Oracle product manager says he was forced out for refusing to deceive customers. Now he's suing the biz

A former Oracle employee filed a lawsuit against the database giant on Tuesday claiming that he was forced out for refusing to lie about the functionality of the company's software. The civil complaint [PDF], filed on behalf of plaintiff Tayo Daramola in US District Court in San Francisco, contends that Oracle violated …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Selling vaporware ?

    Who (apart from anyone in the IT industry!!!) would believe that Oracle could do such a thing ? Next people will be saying that those fine upstanding people known as politicians are not saints!!!

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Selling vaporware ?

      It pains me to say this but it doesn't sound like a big issue here, more like they put a Project manager in a Sales/Account management role with inevitable consequences.

      If I must be fair to Oracle (must I?) it sounds like he was asked to project manage/account manage customers according to a Roadmap - doesn't sound too unreasonable to me.

      Most software companies would go bankrupt if they were asked to deliver something that is feature complete on day 1.

      Now if he was asked to promise delivery of software that he knew 100% would never be delivered as opposed to features that were just moving up and down a prioritised product roadmap - thats a different issue.

      1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

        Re: Selling vaporware ?

        Marketroids promising the undeliverable is of course widespread throughout the industry. Doesn't make it right or honest.

        It's one of the things that drives a vast wedge between techies and suits. I think it was one of the drivers for the rise of open source, as developers sought out a community where they could do decent and honest work and get respect for it.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: deliver something that is feature complete on day 1

        As much as I complain, like everyone else, about Microsoft products, I disagree with that sentence. Most software companies actually have product when they declare that they are selling it. Sure, said product will have patches and upgrades, but there is something working.

        Oracle is apparently guilty of selling a non-existent product to customers, and tasking this guy to keep said customers patient while it was being developed. That is not at all the same thing.

        In any case, it would seem that Oracle should partner up with Escobar Inc. They are obviously made to match.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Selling vaporware ?

        Yeah, um, no.

        The customer was sold a product, his job was to keep the customer happy, because the product the customer had bought didn't exist!

        If the customer had bought onto a project to have the software developed, that is one thing, timescales can slip and you have to manage their expectations. But this sounds like the customer had been sold a "running system", only Oracle hadn't gotten around to designing the engine or wheels, let alone fitting them to the product.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Those aren't bugs, they are upgrades!" So much of software sales has always been about "possibilities". When there are 10 different companies selling software to do the same things, the only way to differentiate is to promote "possibilities".....

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      "Those aren't bugs, they are upgrades undocumented features!"

      FTFY

      1. Notas Badoff

        "Those aren't bugs, they are upgrades undocumented alternative features!"

        A new sales slogan for our new age of trueth.

        1. da39a3ee5e6b4b0d3255bfef95601890afd80709

          "Those aren't bugs, they are upgrades undocumented alternative licensable features!"

          FTFY - The Cisco way.

          1. Pascal

            Or more on topic: the Oracle way.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Alternatives to features.

  3. DavCrav Silver badge

    "known for its use in cases against organized criminals enterprises."

    Sounds a perfect fit for Oracle.

    1. usbac

      Or, the entire software/tech industry...

      Who else can sell products that they know don't work, and don't seem to care if they ever work, and then charge more money for some upgrade that they claim will fix things, but they know it won't fix anything? Isn't that the definition of fraud?

      When an entire industry is based on fraud, how is that not organized crime?

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "When an entire industry is based on fraud, how is that not organized crime?"

        You're painting with far too wide of a brush here. The entire industry is not based on fraud. Most software manufacturers strive to produce honest, quality, working products. It's true that the megacorporations are less concerned about doing that, but they're not even close to being the entire industry.

  4. Tim99 Silver badge

    It's what they do

    As posted before (going back at least to Oracle 5): "One Real Arsehole Called Larry Ellison" allegedly. Those yachts don't pay for themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One Not-As-Rich-as-Bill-Gates Loser Called Larry Ellison

      The problem with using that as an insult is that Ellison *is* an asshole, and clearly doesn't give a damn about anyone viewing him as such. (Wouldn't surprise me if he was proud of it). On the other hand, he'd be happy at being called "rich", as the alternate version of that saying goes.

      If you actually want to insult Ellison on a level that would annoy him personally, I suspect it would be more appropriate to constantly describe him as someone who's still nowhere near as rich as his rival Bill Gates. (^_^)

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: One Not-As-Rich-as-Bill-Gates Loser Called Larry Ellison

        "Wouldn't surprise me if he was proud of it"

        Most assholes are proud of being assholes.

  5. Wade Burchette Silver badge
    Coat

    I don't believe it

    I just cannot believe that a company that makes it employees sign mandatory arbitration clauses and then sues their own arbitrator if go against their masters would sell vaporware. I'm shocked, shocked I tells ya! Next thing you will tell me that Oracle isn't punching puppies and kicking kittens.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: I don't believe it

      As long as they're not Huffing Kittens I don't mind.

      It's so hard to get good Kittens these days, and if Oracle start snatching them up for Huffing then it's gonna make it real hard for us hard-core Huffers!

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: I don't believe it

      Of course not, but don’t ask if they punch kittens and kick puppies...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't believe it

      They probably are - they just don't market it that way. 'Pat' the puppy, and 'nudge' the kitten....

  6. JohnFen Silver badge

    Say it ain't so!

    Oracle selling vaporware? They'd never do that.

  7. Graybyrd
    Windows

    Into the meat grinder

    Pity the poor whistle blower. By the time the US Justice system and Oracle get through with him, in retaliation, smears, and insanely protracted court proceedings and stratospheric attorney costs, this will be yet another example of why trying to do the "right" thing in the US is insanely self-destructive. Did I say "justice" system? Sorry, I should have said "legal" system. Any connection with justice is purely unintentional.

  8. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    IT Angle

    SAP/Oracle --> SOP Oracle

    Oracle have been touting fantasy since the first major presentation by them I saw in 1993. I noticed the entire "demo" ran on MacOS (not mac os x) -- a platform they very much did not have a port for.

    As we used to say when we competed with them back in the day,

    "The best platform to run Oracle on is a slide projector."

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: SAP/Oracle --> SOP Oracle

      One of the worst demos I saw was a Oracle ported Mac HyperCard/Spinnaker live presentation with an Oracle V6 back end, running on Windows 3 on a 486 in 1990/1. It was slow, but the boss still licensed it. I had to try and make it run on a 386SX. The boss thought that a screen update taking 30 seconds was OK, prospective users were not impressed - The same form on a Sun or MicroVAX terminal took maybe 2 seconds. I also had the same form running on DOS 386 PC talking to NetWare updating the same screen in similar times to the Sun. The boss ordered a Compaq 486 - Strangely, when I tried it, it was still much slower than the demo...

    2. zebthecat

      That old chestnut

      Many years ago a company I worked for fell for that trick with a Content Management System.

      This became apparent as we mysteriously had to build missing bits of the management front end for our projects.

      One the developers from the CMS company was working with us to give us some pointers as their documentation was pretty sparse and he admitted on night in the pub that their software demo, while impressive, was a Powerpoint presentation.

  9. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    IT Angle

    SQL 92?

    Anyone know if they finally got the rdbms SQL 92 compliant?

    Last time I looked about 5yrs ago, they still couldn't do Isolation without Granularity at Table-lock. i.e., not a real-world capability.

    Although they put a LOT of effort into obfuscating the documentation to convey the opposite impression :D

  10. chuckufarley

    Do Not, Under Any Circumstances...

    ...Anthropomorphize The Lawn Mower!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc&t=33m40s

    Watch the next seven minutes when you get seven free minutes and watch all of it when you want an education.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances...

      Fantastic! Thanks for sharing that. It makes me glad I've never had the misfortune to work for Larry's yacht enterprise.

  11. petethebloke

    "Managing Customer Expectations"

    I bet some readers hear that phrase every day. I do.

    1. Fading
      Facepalm

      Re: "Managing Customer Expectations"

      More "Managing Customer Exasperations" these days....

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: "Managing Customer Expectations"

      I do. We use it often where I work. But what we mean by that is "make sure the customer isn't expecting more than we can deliver".

  12. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Boffin

    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

    Prior form here based on the other lawsuits. Quack!

    I do find it funny it's RICO being used for "organized criminals enterprises"

  13. John Jennings

    "in a process of affirmative misrepresentation, material omission, and likely fraud."

    Sound live every project plan I developed as a PM for a project Baord..... Usually one part of the client org trying to get me to do against another part of the client. And I was a PM for the bloody client. That's the health service for ya!

    Ah those days.....

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buying Oracle software is always subject to unwritten rules

    Buying Oracle software is always subject to unwritten rules... the rule is the software's unwritten.

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Devil

    I can understand why Oracle fired this guy...

    I mean, hey, if you are going to be at Oracle and not lie to customers, what do you expect to do with your day? There are only so many guys hucking sharpened pencils into the ceiling tiles that a company can keep onboard!

  16. JoeySter

    Should have happened sooner...

    This is one of the oldest problems in the book, not just in sales. Don't oversell. Sometimes it can seem harmless. Your customer asks for a delivery of 50000 potatoes in a week. You only have 40000 on hand but you sell them 50000 then hope to buy the missing 10000 to fill the order once you have it.

    It's a tough gig as well because you're not overselling can lose you the contract to those that do oversell. There often needs to be regulation, perhaps there is for some fields but for software it's more complicated. I've had discussions with this with people in the software development industry where a lot of what's being sold isn't not not implemented yet but airy fairy extra costs for meaningless software development ritual that tends to fall into the category of cargo cult.

    This comes up with a lot of things but one of them is security. I remember someone arguing for a particular framework based approach in the name of security or rather reselling all the promises made by the framework. In reality the framework doesn't make much of a difference. Either a programmer can program securely or they can't. While a framework can at least sometimes eliminate some low hanging fruit, they can't guarantee security so that guarantee shouldn't be sold if its sole basis is on the framework rather than things such as testing, verification, expertise, etc. In many cases these things are so subtle and amorphous or ethereal that they're hard to pick up.

    This is a caution that it can happen in both directions. Developers can oversell and sales can oversell. In some cases oversell is not entirely descriptive when the customer is lured by selling points that are meaningless though selling an opinion to the customer is at least one way to avoid traditional oversell as long as you can maintain the impression you're selling.

    Software tends to be particular complicated. You don't sell a product that's already complete and defined. If you're selling something already out of the factory you have that in your hands already, it's generally immutable and you have to work within what you have.

    Development is more complex. You can sell a house which may in fact not exist. You could have anything in your hands from nothing, to an empty plot, to an empty plot/builders/materials, to a half built house, etc. There's already scope to develop new features. It's very common for sales to do this, at least offer a few missing pieces that'll have to be developer.

    For years now when working with sales people I try to get them to be reserved with how much they sell that's not currently supported by the product but also give some indication of what can and can't be done. Usually sales will go back and forth between teams in a sane set up to find out what they can offer. It may or may not require development work and within reason some amount of development work might be acceptable as long as there's already provisioning in place or it's achievable within the scope of expected delivery. Usually when you have people doing sales in development if it's a healthy arrangement people will often come to your cubicle and ask what they can offer. In some cases a product owner will act as an intermediate to prevent too much landing on the shoulders of developers.

    This is of course why you have shifting methodologies attempting to solve the problem of it's really hard to calculate costs for developing and delivering software. Software taking longer than anticipated is notorious. It's not always for good reasons. Sometimes software should take a week and cost a certain amount but it gets fudged.

    I see all kinds of problems with this all the time in commerce which tends to lean closer to chaos than to order.

    It's quite possible for it to reach such an extreme that it raises serious ethical issues. Whether the legal avenue taken in this case is barking up the wrong tree or not I don't know but it's not something I could not imagine easily happening because it's a fairly standard business situation.

    What I find difficult would be making it a criminal matter though I wouldn't rule it out. Some software contracts and businesses are more serious than others. I don't imagine you would get off lightly if caught lying to gain a government contract which then stumbled or failed due to foreseen circumstances.

    In most cases under excessive pressure people cut corners and ignoring red lights though it's conceivable someone might eventually snap.

  17. Erik4872

    Funny

    IT and software are such weird beasts. Nowhere else in the real world can you just make up a product out of thin air and sell it as if it was ready to be shipped tomorrow.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020