Like the rest of the tech industry, Oracle isn’t shy about using political muscle to push its interests and bash competitors. But with the arrival of President Trump, the database giant is poised to wield more influence than ever before.
Oracle’s clout will come in part from the presence of its CEO, Safra Catz, who did not join the pro-Hillary Clinton chorus of other Silicon Valley honchos, and who is now working on Trump’s transition team. Meanwhile, Fortune has learned that the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying powerhouse, has cut loose other tech clients, including Google’s holding company, Alphabet (GOOG), to focus on Oracle (ORCL) .
This could mean trouble for Google, especially, since Oracle chairman Larry Ellison has long expressed antipathy for the search giant, and his company has directed a series of legal and public relations campaigns against it. These include a failed legal battle over rights to the programming language Java, and Oracle’s quiet bankrolling of a non-profit group called “The Google Transparency Project” that is dedicated to exposing the company’s alleged misdeeds.
According to a tech industry source who was not authorized to speak for attribution, Oracle’s senior vice president of government affairs told a Google executive last year the purpose of the various anti-Google campaigns was a “vendetta.”
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An Oracle spokeswoman said the “vendetta” remark was untrue, but declined to offer details about the company’s lobbying plans or about Katz’s role in Trump’s transition team.
While the bickering between the companies might seem petty, Oracle could be in a position to use its lobbying leverage to make real trouble for its rivals. In particular, the company could lean on Trump’s Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to pursue antitrust investigations against the likes of Google and Amazon (AMZN), which respectively dominate the Internet search and cloud computing businesses. Oracle could also conceivably egg on the Trump administration to scrutinize the media activities of the two companies—Google is a big distributor of news, while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, a regular target of Trump’s anti-press tirades.
If Oracle does prod the new White House to investigate its rivals, they may have a hard time pushing back. Unlike the lobbying clout they had built up under the tech-friendly Obama administration, they now face a new president who has expressed little affection for Silicon Valley. Among the few tech execs who might have an inside track with Trump are PayPal billionaire, Peter Thiel, and Ellison, who has donated millions to Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, the tech industry source also said Oracle has been briefing European regulators about Google’s data collection practices —an allegation that, if true, would be ironic since Oracle itself owns a number of large data broker companies.
The Podesta Group, a lobbying shop founded by Clinton consigliere John Podesta and his brother Tony in 1988, did not reply to a request for comment about its decision to drop other tech clients.