WESTMINSTER — Step inside building 2 of Westmoor Technology Park, and you might bump into an employee leaving the CrossFit gym tucked inside. Or another person carrying a plate of
fresh greens from the free farm-to-table lunch upstairs. There's also pingpong, foosball and darts.
But this is no startup.
It's Oracle, the database-system company founded 44 years ago by Larry Ellison. Or at least a new face of Oracle.
A year after Oracle took over data tracker Datalogix and its building, the typical Oracle acquisition tale is not unfolding.
Instead, Datalogix is infusing its personality into Oracle. And it's pumped! Literally. During an interview last week, Datalogix CEO Eric Roza, now senior vice president of Oracle Data Cloud, sported athletic pants and T-shirt that said, "Data is the new bacon."
"If you look at our top 60 executives at the company over the last four years, Datalogix was independent. We've retained 58 of the top 60 execs," said Roza, who will use lunchtime to train employees in CrossFit. "You just don't hear that."
Datalogix was Oracle's 103rd acquisition. The Silicon Valley technology firm isn't famous for perks or having much of a culture. Employee reviews on Glassdoor mention a decent employer with good benefits, minimal raises and the requisite bureaucracy of a business with 132,000 workers.
But where past Oracle acquisitions slice up new staff and move them to related corporate divisions, Roza's team seems to be calling the shots. Datalogix's employees make up more than half of the newish Oracle Data Cloud, which Oracle created in mid-2014 after buying online customer data firm BlueKai.
"We have our own salesforce, our own engineering, our own product people and our own marketing people," Roza said. "Being in data and software that is so different, (Oracle said) we're going to keep it together as sort of an experiment. And the experiment has gone really well. Because we've outperformed, we've been able to get more and more purview over our destiny."
At noon, he heads to the gym a few steps from his desk to train employees in the art of CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that mixes aerobic exercise and weightlifting.
"One of my firm beliefs is that most work environments make people less healthy, and I wanted ours to be more healthy. That's embodied with the CrossFit gym we have," said Roza, who co-owns a CrossFit gym in Boulder with his wife. "It's really changed a lot of people's lives here."
Roza, who feels culture is so important he added a paragraph about it in a securities filing to prepare Datalogix to go public, knew his team needed more space. With Oracle, they made a decision to move from Westminster and expand at Oracle's campus in Broomfield.
"I said, 'I don't want offices, no high cubes. We want open space, we want a contemporary feel. We want flow.' And they said, 'We'll do all that,' and that was awesome. And by the way, we have a CrossFit gym, and we need that," Roza recalled.
Three weeks ago, Roza toured the future space in the Interlocken business park. It should be ready Oct. 1.
"We said, 'This is great. Where's the CrossFit gym?' " Roza said. "I was preparing myself thinking they were going to try to get out of it. They said, 'Oh, you see that courtyard there?' Yeah. 'We're going to build you a little outbuilding with its own CrossFit gym.' "
Oracle's reportedly $1.2 billion-dollar purchase of Datalogix last year — the deal closed in January 2015 — was part of a major change for Oracle. The company sold large and costly software database services to large clients.
But as technology moved some of those duties online to the cloud, allowing faster updates and uniformity for corporate users, Oracle made a decision.
"I believe there was a lightswitch that went on. Perhaps Mr. Ellison came to a meeting and said, 'We're going to the cloud.' At that point, that's where you start to get the cultural change," said Chad Eschinger, research vice president at market researcher Gartner Inc. "Oracle is throwing everything it's got at this point."
Big companies that gobble up little ones are looking for intellectual property and talent, said Nizar Tarhuni, analyst for venture-capital tracking firm PitchBook.
But larger companies must consider autonomy for smaller acquisitions leading in a new direction. The amount of venture capital available makes it enticing for smaller firms to retain independence.
"It's not necessarily newer but something that is more pronounced in the current day and age," Tarhuni said. "The incentive isn't there to be acquired by a bigger company when you have venture capital to employ the capital they need. If you can provide that autonomy to a younger company that is a strategic purchase, that's a win-win situation for both groups."
When Datalogix toyed with an initial public offering, buyers began to make offers. The CEO of advertising agency WPP told Business Insider last month it was interested but couldn't beat Oracle's $1.2 billion bid.
Datalogix held a key element to the future of commerce. Using its data tools and 1,500 partners with access to 110 million households, the company helps marketers connect a person's online and offline shopping habits to prove a marketing campaign worked. By the time Oracle announced the acquisition Dec. 22, 2014, Datalogix had insight on $2 trillion of consumer spending.
Omar Tawakol, CEO and co-founder of BlueKai, the cloud-based data manager Oracle purchased several months earlier, led the purchase of Datalogix. Tawakol is now general manager of Oracle Data Cloud and is Roza's boss.
With Tawakol in charge, the combination was a strategic fit that made sense because of a shared entrepreneurial bent and common focus, said Sandy Miller, general partner at IVP, whose venture firm led the $25 million round invested in Datalogix in 2013. Datalogix raised about $87 million before getting acquired.
"Oracle has been good on its word. They've kept the team together, and business has expanded. The team is happy; the investors are happy. It's easy to say it's a win-win because people say that all the time," said Miller, who credits Roza's leadership. "But this time, it's true."
Standing at one's desk for health reasons isn't mandated. But by promoting fitness, Datalogix employees saw health care premiums rise just one-third that of the rest of the tech industry for the past three years.
Having a CrossFit gym also helps recruit. Roza, who meets with all new employees, said that when he met eight new workers late last year and asked, "Why are you here?" three responded with "CrossFit."
Like at Datalogix, Oracle allows the group to banish performance reviews tied to compensation. Oracle also kept Datalogix's workforce training and leadership programs.
"We've got 10 to 15 offices now and 850 employees. How does this scale? It turns out, it does. Instead of Datalogix 101, it's now ODC 101. We did this last week, and we had 100 people here," Roza said. "We had at least a dozen people outside of ODC. There were people from (Oracle's) legal team who wanted to learn more about what we do."
The ability to offer more training helps recruit and retain employees. Since the Oracle acquisition, the group has hired 150 new workers with about half from the Denver area.
Oracle doesn't break out financial results for the cloud group, but Roza shared a hint about its financial performance: "For the last quarter, our business had more than doubled the growth rate in our budget. You don't usually see an acquisition do that. Usually what you see is people miss plans and hopefully recover."
With results much better than expected, Roza has no regrets about choosing the acquisition path.
"I felt like the numbers we posted last quarter would have been a problem for a public company because we were so far ahead of anything we would have forecast," Roza said. "I would have lost my credibility as a CEO. And (growth) is directly attributable to our ability to retain this engaged workforce, our operating autonomy and the way the broader Oracle team has supported us."