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The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation [Hardcover]

Mike Wilson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 5 1997
A recent Forbes listed Larry Ellison as the fifth richest man in the world, and the second richest active player in the technology world. The ultimate self-made man, Ellison began Oracle Corporation, the fastest-growing software database company in the world, with a $1,200 investment. Mike Wilson has created an entertaining and provocative portrait of this enigmatic and visionary businessman. of photos.


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It seems like all of the biggest names in the computer industry are getting the celebrity bio treatment these days. But no corporate CEO deserves it more than Larry Ellison, the charismatic head of Oracle Corp. This isn't your standard, dry, "learn-from-his-example" type of life. It's not that Ellison's life doesn't offer the same lessons in hard-won business success as some of his colleague's, because it certainly does. It's just vastly more entertaining.

In The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison, author Mike Wilson delivers a fascinating and genuinely interesting portrayal of Silicon Valley's most notorious bad boy, constructed from hundreds of interviews with friends, colleagues, and those unfortunate enough to stand in Ellison's way. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes stories of the growth and worldwide success of Oracle, which Ellison founded in 1977. Plus, there's plenty of the good stuff: tales of Ellison's truly fast-lane lifestyle, filled with big boats, beautiful women, and celebrity friends. While this book probably won't transform you into a fan of Ellison's, you will be grateful for a chance to observe him--from a safe distance.

The punchline is "God doesn't think he's Larry Ellison," of course.

From Kirkus Reviews

An authorized biography of Oracle's founder and brash billionaire leader. Ellison, the adopted son of a Jewish couple from Chicago, seems to specialize in reinventing himself. By all accounts, he grew up on middle-class South Shore Drive, but he has told reporters that he lived in the South Side ghetto. He was an uninspired student who never received a college degree but would maintain something of an obsession with the University of Chicago and imply he had an advanced degree in physics. Ellison is also an indifferent student of language but has arranged his home with all the trappings of a Japanese lord, and a few boats and helicopters to boot. These grand inconsistencies--delightful to some, horribly irritating to others, including many former employees--go a long way to explaining Ellison's unbelievable success at marketing his Oracle database software, used by thousands of companies. One employee, a devout Mormon named Rick Bennett, even considered his ubiquitous software akin to ``an instrument of God'' and believed Ellison pivotal to modern-day Mormonism. Wilson, an investigative reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, wisely focuses much of the attention on Ellison's one-sided feud with Bill Gates (who views Ellison as something of a gadfly but doesn't mention his name at all in his book, The Road Ahead) and documents his obsession nicely. He also does a fair job of explaining Ellison's vision for the NC, an inexpensive computer that provides quick access to the Internet and stores all of its software on a network server, rather than on a hard drive. While some in the computer business see the NC as the future computer for schools, many others see it as a $500 empty box and a poor attempt to topple Microsoft. While the title is the funniest line of the book, this is an engaging, humanizing look at a Silicon Valley megalomaniac. (8 pages b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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LARRY ELLISON WALKED DOWN THE LONG HALLWAY, HIS SNEAKERS chirping quietly as he approached the living room. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
That observation, made by a friend many years ago, kept running through my mind as I read this well-researched and written, yet tedious, biography of Larry Ellison. An egotistical liar who thinks nothing of stabbing his most loyal followers (he has no friends) in the back, Mr. Ellison incessantly whines about how lonely and misunderstood he is. Poor baby. As the famous Chinese curse goes, "May all your wishes come true."
Although Mike Wilson apparently likes and admires Larry, he fails to make his case. The man has no redeeming virtue. The book suffers as a result, the reader being left emotionally drained and disgusted. As Sophocles observed 2500 years ago, "I would rather fail honorably than win by cheating." Larry would rather win by cheating.
Since Larry is a member of the Vietnam Generation (he turned 21 in 1965), I had hoped that the author would include some discussion of his attitude towards the military, particularly in light of the fact that Larry recently purchased a jet fighter in which he stages mock dogfights over the Pacific Ocean. If he's so macho, why did he take a pass on the real thing?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful view May 4 2004
Format:Paperback
The book flows well, is interesting to read, and gives good insight into Larry Ellison himself as well as Oracle. There is considerable background material that all seems relevant as the book progresses. Ellison was interviewed 4 times for this book, and while the book reflects overall a favorable opinion of him, it also seems very truthful and frank. I gained a better insight of the software and database industry from reading the book. Was also helpful in analyzing Ellison and his leadership strategies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read July 18 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Very good read, I couldn't put this book down until I was finished, larry is the man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Greed is good." - Gordon Gekko, Wallstreet June 23 2003
Format:Hardcover
"Greed is Good." from the movie Wallstreet, said by Gordon Gekko
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4.0 out of 5 stars informative, entertaining April 9 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found the book a fairly easy read. It was informative and each quote was marked with a 'who said it' reference in the back of the book. The book paints a grand picture of Larry but also gives you the sense that you may not want to buy a used car from him. Overall the book gives you the insight that Larry got to be a billionaire due to a crafty ability to sell to people, and a complete determination to win. Many of the stories within the book are interesting and entertaining even if some of them may be fabrications of the people who told them. I recommend this book if you know anything about Larry and Oracle already.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally Brilliant Dec 11 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Larry is the man. I admire the way mike wilson
portrays larry so candidly and shows that
ruthlessness and agressiveness are what larry
leveraged to success.
this book is compelling and chilling. lawrence joseph
ellison's ride to the top was not as easy like william gates
but he showed exemplary management skills and devoted his life
to Oracle and its growth
a must read for anyone who likes sheer brilliance
and vision
Larry portrays no emotions at all known to man except greed
and the desire to win at by making others fail.Lawrence Ellison
shows that even a second generation immigrant can reach the
highest levels of power in corporate america by sheer effort and vision
Business schools should make a case study of larry and his success story and this book is a good study into winning at any cost
If Larry were in Microsoft,it would be 10 times larger than what it is
The book also portrays the intense hatred larry has for william
gates,simply because gates didn't think larry was important enough. Gates bashing is also part of Larry's style
All in all I became a great fan of larry after reading this book.
But then again I am a fan of any book or movie that portrays the intense burning desire of man to succeed at any cost
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read like a movie Dec 8 2001
Format:Paperback
I seldom read any books but this one.
This is the book for which I can read like a movie.
The author describes how Ellison uses talented people to built his Empire, and dump them cruelly when they are no longer making contributions, or not meeting his expectations. There are three things Ellison cared the most during the early years of Oracle:
1. Making Deals
2. Making Deals
3. Making Deals
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight into Ellison Aug. 18 2001
Format:Paperback
Would highly reccommend to anybody in corporate management. Provides great insight not only into Ellison on a biographical level, but also brings up questions of buisness ethics and the question of where the line between "creative forward-looking marketing" and "lying" really is.
Best book I have seen in showing how someone can turn a outwardly perceived negative (Ellison's ego / personality) and turn it into a great driving force and positive.
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