By Jessica Twentyman
Has the recent, precipitous downturn in license revenue growth at ERP supplier PeopleSoft International Inc forced the company to abandon it morals? The UK subsidiary of PeopleSoft recently announced that it has signed a 4m pound ($6.5m) deal with the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), an agency of the UK Ministry of Defence that was last year at the center of an animal rights debate. DERA has 38 separate licenses for animal research from the UK Home Office, including seven substantial severity licenses, meaning that the maximum level of pain can be inflicted on its animals. In November 1998, DERA became embroiled in a national row when it emerged that many of the animals sent to the agency’s laboratories for use in scientific experiments were frequently found surplus to requirements and destroyed by gassing or lethal injection. According to the Sunday Telegraph, DERA records showed that in 1994-95, out of a total of 106 marmoset monkeys sent to DERA, only 12 were used in experiments, with the remaining animals destroyed. In the same period, the newspaper reported, almost 1,000 mice were used for experiments, but more than 3,000 were destroyed, and while 700 rats were used in research, 2,504 were destroyed. PeopleSoft’s decision to do business with DERA is surprising given the views of its CEO Dave Duffield. Duffield is a keen supporter of animal welfare issues. He has donated millions of dollars to Bay Area animal welfare charities and hangs pictures of puppies on his office walls at the company’s Pleasanton, California headquarters. The Duffield Family Foundation, meanwhile, has pledged $200m to a San Francisco no-kill nation project, designed to prevent animals in US shelters from being destroyed even if ill-health or behavioral problems mean they cannot be re-homed. When questioned about the DERA deal, PeopleSoft’s UK marketing manager Alistair McGill, said, This is about Mr Duffield’s personal interests, not company policy. However, under the direction of Duffield, PeopleSoft has in the past supported pro-animal causes. For example, when the company signed a joint technology initiative in 1995 with systems management software supplier Platinum Technology, another animal friendly software company, the two companies agreed on a friendly wager: The first company to meet its sales targets would determine an animal cause to which the other company would make a significant contribution. The discrepancy between Duffield’s public support for animal welfare, and the actions of a company in which he is a major shareholder, remain unexplained. Repeated attempts to contact Duffield’s office and an email sent to Duffield outlining DERA’s activities have so far received no response. The UK office, which controls the DERA account, has also declined to comment.