Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle
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From Publishers Weekly
Symonds was technology editor at the Economist when Ellison invited him to collaborate on a book about e-business, but the journalist decided he would rather write a profile of the software tycoon, one of Silicon Valley's most notorious figures. Oracle's database programs have become integral to the Internet and other networked computer systems, and Oracle's head is convinced that he can surpass Microsoft as the industry leader. But he's also developed a reputation for his aggressive corporate tactics and personal flamboyance. Ellison agreed to cooperate with the project, but as part of the deal, he reserved the right to respond, which he does in a series of running footnotes. Sometimes he only uses the opportunity to mouth business platitudes, but he also refutes stories, cracks jokes and even argues with other sources. Although the book deals extensively with Oracle's efforts to promote a new software package, it comes to life most when it follows Ellison outside the office-prepping his sailboat for a run at the America's Cup or overseeing the final touches on a Japanese garden complex. Symonds's near-total access to his subject leads to intimate observations that verge on personal advice, as when the writer suggests how best to handle a top Oracle executive or comments on the relationship between Ellison and his two children. But he remains objective enough to point out several mistakes in the past management of Oracle (many of which Ellison acknowledges or clarifies). Even without its unusual counterpoint, the book would stand as a compelling portrayal of one of the computer industry's most influential leaders.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There has been a war brewing in the software industry that most computer users don't even know about. Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, wants to supplant the current Windows-based client-server network architecture with a totally Internet-based solution that would simplify computing and make Microsoft's server software obsolete. Even now, Oracle is the dominant software in business; every time you do a Google search or buy something on Amazon.com, you are using it. Anyone who craves a play-by-play account of Ellison and the evolution of the number-one relational database in the world can really sink their teeth into this. There is a slightly bizarre twist to this high-tech tale: Ellison himself gets to throw in running commentary at the bottom of many pages, augmenting and often contradicting the author's text in his own brash style. Beware if you 're not up on your geekspeak, though, as the casual reader will get lost in all the IT systems acronyms thrown around, such as CRM, ERP, HR and TPC-C. More entertaining than the technical jargon is the ruthless backstabbing that goes on between Ellison and big-name competitors such as Microsoft, Seibel Systems, PeopleSoft and i2 Technologies. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
After reading about Oracle's battles against Microsoft you can't help rooting for Ellison and his warrior leadership style.
As a salesperson in the software industry I found it a great read!
Sr Partner Account Manager
We also found that Ellison's character came most into focus when the book entered the world of yacht racing, his passion. The author also includes poignant, revealing anecdotes about Ellison's childhood and candid reports about his personal life. Larry Ellison was allowed to review the manuscript and his comments appear as counterbalancing footnotes on many pages. That guy, he always does things a new way - as you will see.
We already knew that he had a lavish lifestyle and was fond of yachts and anything Japanese, which is quite ironic since Japan is a very submissive and bureaucratic society - the complete opposite of our American Horatio Alger Ellison. But maybe it is an appropriate association since the Japanese historically ruled by the sword and in modern times they rule their inferiors with undemocratic force and elaborate social pressures.
In any case Oracle is essentially what we knew all along. It is where one brilliant man calls the shots. It is a company run by a hard driving, energetic guy with a huge ego and extremely good in the modern business world. Anyone in his way is driven into the ground as he steam rolls over them. Even the author had to endure the imprint of Ellison's "two cents" on many pages in the book. That was a biography first.
Having said that, it is always nice to see some of the details spilled in a nicely crafted and entertaining fashion. Nobody can ever accuse Larry Ellison of not being a resounding success nor of being dull. For those reasons it is worth buying and reading and merits 4 stars. A good story but he still remains a mystery.
Jack in Toronto
You do not have to be an expert on or even familiar with software development issues to appreciate the general business thoughts and decisions made during Oracle¡¯s development. The portions of the book describing the company¡¯s successes and mistakes, why certain decisions were made, why certain decisions were not made, the internal politics, the personality clashes, the learning from bad experiences and the maturation process of both Oracle and Mr. Ellison are compelling.
I think the direct comments made by Mr. Ellison in the footnotes are a very unique feature of this book and one that sets it apart from others in the field. It doesn¡¯t surprise me that it¡¯s the first of its kind that I¡¯ve read given that Mr. Ellison was involved. The footnotes are so informative as they are from the man himself and help to shed light on his thinking and, to some extent, his personality.
The book also provides good insight into Mr. Ellison himself. The path that Mr. Ellison took to maturation as a human being and his willingness to admit and confront all the ¡°difficult¡± things about his life that he has repressed can be learning for all willing to admit or seek some explanation of our life¡¯s purpose.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was an open secret that if you were what was called then "one of the freaks" and you had, perhaps, taken a few physics or math classes... Read morePublished on April 9 2004 by Edward G. Nilges
A fascinating book. I should note that I worked at Oracle for 12 years (1989-1991), though much too far down in the hierarchy to have had dealings with Larry Ellison himself. Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2004 by Timothy S. Smith
I was intersted in the history of relational. There is one lamentably brief chapter: System R, Sybase, Ingres, two-phased commit, stored procedures, etc. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2004 by Michael Sweeney
My first fear when I bought 'Softwar' was that Matthew Symonds would be overwhelmed by the aura of Larry Ellison, resulting in a glowing whitewash of the man and his empire. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003 by Craig Wood
I particularly enjoyed the pictures in this book -- especially the one when Larry was little holding his good brother. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2003 by Queen of the Middle Kingdom
A pretty good book for Larry Ellison!! The book heaps praises on Ellison even when it is ridiculing his short sighted approach. Read morePublished on Dec 11 2003 by Avaksi