"It's hard to understand this decision and the thinking behind it and it's possible that they never had the relevant information available to them," said Oracle Corp. CEO Safra Catz at a press conference in Tel Aviv today in a first statement about the company's failure to win the Israeli government's Nimbus cloud services tender. Catz did not respond on the matter of the court petition filed by Oracle against the award of the tender to Google and Amazon.
The Nimbus project is the biggest computer services tender in Israel so far and involves the building of local cloud services with an initial investment of about NIS 4 billion. One of the conditions of the tender is that the cloud computer servers are built in Israel for powerful computers that will allow activities and simultaneous communications between vast numbers of computers. The services will be provided from a local site with the data kept and processed within Israel's borders under the strictest of data security conditions.
In March, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) were awarded the tender but the losing bidders, Oracle and Microsoft have petitioned the courts to grant them an extension after there had been rumors that they had lost the tender before the bid winners were announced.
Catz also spoke about the US Defense Ministry cloud computing tender, which was won by Microsoft but cancelled after a court petition by Amazon. "The tender is currently open and the Ministry is ready now to re-check the decisions. Remember that the last time that they checked it was in 2017 and a long time has passed since then and it is good to look at the technology with a fresh eyes. The Pentagon's IT systems director called me after the press conference, as with all the companies, and said there is readiness to look at the matter anew."
"Personally committed to Israel
One of the aims of Catz's visit is to move forwards with the new data center that Oracle is currently building in Israel through Binat Computer Communications in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim, at a cost of $200 million. The building has thousands of square meters in nine underground floors. Catz says the center is being built without any government or private contracts, and it is probably being built with expectations of winning government contracts. Catz said that the data center, which will be inaugurated after the religious holidays, will be the most secure in Israel against cyberattacks, missile attacks and natural disasters.
US employees of Google and Apple have boycotted tenders in which they were working with governments like the US and Israel. Have you encountered similar responses towards the tender in Israel?
"When I joined Oracle, one of the tasks that I was committed to was to stand behind the US and Israel. We have no flexibility on this issue. True we live in a free country and I love my thousands of employees and respect all of them. But if somebody does not agree with our world of values, perhaps Oracle is not the company for them. Larry Ellison (the former Oracle CEO) and myself are committed to Israel both personally and we devote our personal time to the subject, and so nobody can be surprised that this is our approach."
On international corporate tax reform, led by the Biden administration and which is expected to be approved in dozens of OECD countries, Catz known for her Republican views, said. "It doesn't concern us. We pay our taxes and part of our work is to adhere to the law. I personally love the field of taxation and as an academic I invested major time in studying it."
On the growth of Israeli high-tech and the string of recent Israeli tech IPOs Catz said, "The only way to solve the problems of the planet on which we live is that enough capital will flow to the leading tech companies. This is the reason for my current visit to Israel, the first since the Covid outbreak and I have met with Israeli companies in the field of cybersecurity, cryptocurrencies and more. I see Israeli tech companies that give me goosebumps. There are companies here that are changing the rules of the game. So while perhaps I can't tell others where to invest, but we are putting our money in Israel and Israeli technology."
Catz, 61, was born in Israel. When she was young her family moved to the US and she joined Oracle's board of directors 1999 and when the company's founder and CEO Larry Ellison became chairman and CTO in 2014, she was appointed co-CEO with Mark Hurd. He died two years ago leaving Catz as the sole CEO. Catz usually visited family in Israel once or twice a year before the Covid outbreak but this is her first visit to the country since the pandemic began.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 8, 2021
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