Tom LaRocca, a 12-year Hewlett-Packard veteran who was one of the key architects of the company's PartnerONE program, has left for a position with rival Oracle, CRN has learned.
LaRocca joined Oracle this week as vice president of worldwide product strategy and alliances, according to his LinkedIn profile. HP and Oracle didn't respond to a request for comment.
LaRocca's appointment comes as Oracle is moving aggressively to recruit HP partners. In fact, Oracle Senior Vice President Judson Althoff, who oversees the company's worldwide channel and alliances, has declared that Oracle has a "huge" focus on bringing in HP partners.
The recruitment blitz comes at a time when Oracle is boosting its investment in the SMB market and looking to grab share from HP in the industry standard server space with its Oracle Database Appliance.
At HP, LaRocca was vice president of marketing and strategy in HP's Solution Partners Organization (SPO), where he oversaw all of the company's channel partnerships and initiatives. John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based HP partner, described LaRocca as the 'father' of HP's PartnerONE program.
"He certainly understands the channel and what motivates partners," said Convery. " I think he'll bring a tremendous amount of expertise to Oracle."
Last year, much of LaRocca's time was devoted to the WebOS sales and technical training program HP kicked off last June to get partners up to speed in advance of the TouchPad launch.
But HP discontinued the TouchPad last August after seven weeks on the market, and since then LaRocca hasn't been as visible as he'd been before taking on the WebOS role, three different solution providers told CRN.
Meanwhile, it's unclear what role that Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager of its WebOS global business unit, will play at HP now that HP has released WebOS to the open-source community.
One HP partner, who requested anonymity, said DeWitt is working with CEO Meg Whitman on the future roadmap for the company's Personal Systems Group (PSG). Dewitt was senior vice president and general manager of PSG prior to taking on the WebOS top spot.
HP didn't respond to a request for comment on DeWitt's current role at the company.
The LaRocca appointment comes in the midst of an increasingly litigious relationship between Oracle and HP. HP filed a suit last June alleging breach of contract in the wake of Oracle's decision to stop developing Oracle software for HP's Itanium platform.
HP filed also lawsuits in the wake of Oracle's hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd, who joined as co-president in September 2010, and former HP Channel Chief Adrian Jones, who took over as senior vice president of Asia Pacific/Japan last March.
Oracle and HP settled the Hurd lawsuit in September 2010 only several weeks after Hurd was hired by Oracle. Jones' attorneys, meanwhile, have demanded that HP withdraw the suit against Jones because it was based on what his attorneys called a "knowingly false accusation."
Steven Burke contributed to this article.