Oracle has established a $US100 million venture capital fund that will be used to invest in companies that are developing Internet products and services based on the Oracle 8i platform.
Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman and chief executive officer, joined other Oracle executives at the company's Redwood Shores, California headquarters on Friday to pitch the fund to some 50 or more venture capitalists from around the country.
By setting up the fund, Oracle hopes to accelerate the move to Internet-based computing and so drive demand for its Oracle8i database and other software products and tools, which it now markets heavily as an Internet-ready platform.
Oracle will partner with venture capital firms to make joint investments in firms involved in areas including content management, electronic commerce, business intelligence and other Internet-based products and services, Ellison said.
"Someone building a 'doctor.com' Web site that provides doctors with scheduling and accounting applications running on an Oracle8i database is exactly the kind of company we're looking for," Ellison said.
Before Oracle locates such a company, it will first have to get Oracle8i to market. The database was originally due to be released in December 1998, then Oracle pushed the release back two to three months so the company could finish additional product testing. Ellison said last night that Oracle8i will certainly be released in February.
The venture fund will source and manage equity investments in both startup companies and established corporations looking to develop new products or rearchitect offerings based on Oracle technology, Ellison said.
The target range for each investment is $2 million [M] to $5 million [M], although Oracle will pitch in more money "if it looks like it makes sense," said David Roux, a member of a three-man investment committee Oracle has set up to manage the fund.
"This is the loaves and the fishes," Roux said. "If this works, there's an endless supply of cash and services and assistance we can provide your companies."
Companies that receive funding will also benefit from Oracle's marketing and sales resources, as well as its branding, technical support and customer base, Roux said.
One venture capitalist in the audience who said his firm invests in Israeli companies asked if the offer applied to startups outside the U.S.
"I personally have invested more than $100 million [M] in Israel, so I don't think geography is an issue here," Ellison said.
Oracle will work with venture capital firms to select funding candidates. The venture capital firms will have to contribute their own investment capital alongside Oracle to take part in the program, Roux said.
Oracle, in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at +1-650-506-7000 or at http://www.oracle.com/.