Oracle CEO pushes back on challenge from Salesforce: 'Are you kidding me?'

Key Points
  • Oracle CEO Mark Hurd says $10 billion in cloud revenue is only the beginning
  • The company announced a deal with AT&T to move its databases to Oracle's cloud
  • Hurd denied a report of impending layoffs in Oracle's sales staff
Oracle CEO on AT&T deal: Tremendous opportunity for collaboration

Oracle continues to throw barbs at rival Salesforce, as the two companies compete to become the first software services company to reach $10 billion in cloud revenue.

"Oh of course we're going to surpass $10 billion, the only question becomes what date," Mark Hurd, one of Oracle's CEOs, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Thursday. "If you look at our growth rate last quarter and just start doing the math .... we're going to hit $10 billion relatively soon."

In February, Salesforce said it expects to achieve that goal in the next year with sales of $10.15 billion to $10.20 billion, "faster than any enterprise software company in history." But Hurd said in March that "it's just a matter of when we catch and pass in total cloud revenue."

And while $10 billion would be less than one-third of Oracle's total revenue -- it booked $37.05 billion in the fiscal year ended May 31, 2016 -- Hurd says that's only the beginning.

"Are we going to stop at $10 billion? Are you kidding? So this is a tremendous opportunity for us to grow and blow way past $10 billion," Hurd said.

Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Heated as it may be, though, the rivalry fails to account for the elephants in the room, particularly Amazon.

Amazon is widely considered the leader in cloud revenue, with about a third of the total market, according to Synergy Research Group. Microsoft, Google and IBM are gaining market share, trailed by Oracle and Alibaba, while companies like Rackspace and Salesforce are strong in niche markets, Synergy said.

But Hurd is confident Oracle can win.

"[Amazon] built their infrastructure years ago — we get the opportunity to build ours now," Hurd said. "Which gives us all the learning that we got, frankly, from them, and the opportunity for us to turn that into competitive advantage."

Thanks to the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle holds the keys to the programming platform Java, which Hurd said is still one of the "great development platforms of all time," and one of the most popular programming languages in the world.

"We believe no one in the industry, bar none, brings this capability," Hurd said.

AT&T signs on

Oracle also announced on Thursday that AT&T will move thousands of large databases to Oracle's cloud. AT&T will use Oracle's software services to do tasks like automating the dispatch of its 70,000 field technicians. AT&T's enormous amount of data required months of working with Oracle's databases, Hurd told CNBC.

"I think the fact that we've got such a significant customer that's made such a big bet ... we're just very excited about it," Hurd said.

Hurd also pushed back against reports that Oracle may be cutting its sales force back in a restructuring.

"I think that's fake news," Hurd said, invoking a phrase used frequently by President Donald Trump. "I've seen a couple of reports over the past two weeks, including that we were going to make a big acquisition. There is no merit to that whatsoever. I saw a report that we were cutting our sales force, there is not merit to that whatsoever."

Hurd's counterpart, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, is scheduled to meet with Trump in June to discuss ways to modernize the federal government, a White House official confirmed to Recode this week. Trump has pushed tech companies to hire more in the United States, and has promised a tax holiday on the repatriation of foreign cash.

"We're a big hirer in the United States. We hire a lot of kids fresh out of college," Hurd said, adding about Oracle's foreign cash: "We'd like to bring it back. We'd love to obviously not have to pay tax twice."