10 Sept 2003 Oracle’s primary customer event of the year, OracleWorld San Francisco, was thrown into disarray today after a bomb scare forced the organisation to evacuate the conference and cancel all presentations.
Around 14,000 delegates and exhibitors at the Oracle show and an adjacent event, Seybold 2003, spilled out onto the streets surrounding San Francisco’s Moscone centre as hundreds of police with sniffer dogs swept the vast complex for the presence of a device and dozens of fire engines stood by.
According to San Francisco police department, the bomb threat was received at 1.20pm as Oracle senior vice president Chuck Phillips was conducting a press Q&A on the progress of Oracle’s proposed acquisition of arch-rival PeopleSoft. At the same time, Oracle veteran Ken Jacobs was addressing an audience of several thousand on management software for grid computing architectures.
As the buildings were emptying, Oracle officials were clearly perplexed as to why the police did not inform them until 2.30pm of the potential threat. Phillips — effectively deputy CEO at the company — only took a 60 seconds to order the clearing of the building after being informed of the situation.
The remaining afternoon’s 50 or so streams and keynote presentations were cancelled as a result.
Running over four days, OracleWorld is the company’s flagship show of the year, attracting some 20,000 delegates and partners.
Security at the event was relatively low-key given the presence of some high-tech royalty — Dell’s Michael Dell, Intel CEO Craig Barrett, Sun founder Scott McNealy and Oracle’s own Larry Ellison.
Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was due to give the closing keynote presentation to the conference the next day — 11 September, the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. An Oracle spokesman said that would go ahead as planned, though the company was reviewing security measures in the light of the hoax.