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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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From Amazon

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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally Brilliant Dec 11 2001
By A Customer
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 The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison April 2 2000
I found out about this book in an Oracle training class two years ago but put off reading it until now. THIS BOOK KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF! The most fascinating thing about this story was that I had witnessed almost all the book's events in my own experiences working for other high-tech startup companies here in the Denver area. I was constantly saying to myself, as I read, "That's exactly what happened when I was working at (fill in the blank) Inc!". The same personalities (some even worse), the same marketing pressures, the same technical problems, the same product support problems, the same legal problems, the same IPOs, and some of the same rewards (but I didn't receive as many stock options ;^).
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any (technical) person who is considering working for a high-tech startup for the first time. This is the greatest and most accurate tale (at least in my experience) that is available of day-to-day life in a startup company. Some of the stuff that happens at these types of companies is SO WEIRD that you usually have to see it for yourself to believe it. This book gives a VERY GOOD look at "the weird stuff".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ellison inspires Hollywood ... June 24 2000
Why smoke tons of illicit substances for a script, when all the plots you need is in this book? This book has great entertainment value (please order it directly from Amazon :-), and really deserves massive attention like Oracle's equity market performance last year. In the past people filmed Wall Street stories, leading to trader-wannabees religiously citing Gordon Gekko's lines. With the exuberance of New Economy, why not make a movie based on this book? This will make Mike Wilson happy, will give Larry another achievement in life after Oprah :-), will give Hollywood a new idea to monetize, and will give the world a more vivid portrait of the difference between God and Larry Ellison. Financing the film should be no problem for Larry, he might want to think who he wants to cast as himself. I'd like to audition the Adelyn part ...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Larry is a piece of work. Aug. 26 1999
By A Customer
Having worked for Oracle as a technical support rep, back when there were only five of us in the US and seven worldwide (we kept our support database on paper because the database was too slow and prone to corruption!), I too recommend book.
"The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison" is a 'must-read' for anyone considering buying a relational database management system, working in the industry, or for anyone who is simply wants to mercilessly crush their competition with mediocre products and high pressure sales tactics. Larry Ellison makes Machievelli look like Saint Francis. However, like Ghengis Khan, you have to admire his accomplishments.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful view
The book flows well, is interesting to read, and gives good insight into Larry Ellison himself as well as Oracle. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Anna Cannington
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Very good read, I couldn't put this book down until I was finished, larry is the man.
Published on July 17 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars "Greed is good." - Gordon Gekko, Wallstreet
"Greed is Good." from the movie Wallstreet, said by Gordon Gekko
Published on June 23 2003 by "chrisdoggeydogg"
4.0 out of 5 stars informative, entertaining
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. Read more
Published on April 9 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Read like a movie
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... Read more
Published on Dec 8 2001 by Oscar So
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight into Ellison
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... Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2001 by Phil Dade
1.0 out of 5 stars A poorly written account
This sorry excuse for a book exhibited some of the worst writing I have come across in recent times. If you want some good reading, check out the New New Thing by Michael Lewis. Read more
Published on July 30 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Outdated and Wrong about Larry
This pathetic book takes a very very shallow look at Larry Ellison, the man and a cheap shot at Oracle Corporation. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars A Textbook case of Attention Deficit Disorder?
A fascinating read, but I was quite surprised to find no discussion of Attention Deficit Disorder in this book. Much of Mr. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2000 by nonamespecified
4.0 out of 5 stars All the stuff you wanted to know but couldn't find elsewhere
Besides that fact that God doesn't think He is Larry, I don't think I learned anything... Just kidding. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2000 by Lincoln Han
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