Softwar | Matthew Symonds

Summary of: Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle
By: Matthew Symonds

Introduction

Dive into the world of Larry Ellison, Oracle’s enigmatic founder, and explore his journey in ‘Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle’ by Matthew Symonds. This sweeping account takes you from Larry’s early life as an adopted child through the formation and explosive growth of his company. Understand how his defiant character and vision have shaped Oracle’s trajectory, while gaining insights into his tumultuous relationships, personal passions, and business rivalries. The book delves into his confrontations with Bill Gates and IBM, along with Oracle’s setbacks and successes throughout its history. Ultimately, experience an intimate portrayal of a man who fiercely pursued his vision and changed the face of technology.

Larry Ellison’s Inspiring Journey

Larry Ellison’s life began with a rough patch as an abandoned and adopted child. Despite being labeled as a troublesome child, he went on to revolutionize the tech industry with his exceptional vision. Ellison found work as a contract programmer, indulged in work, created the first promising relational database, and co-established the Relational Software Inc. He then turned his focus on developing the Internet into an incredibly superior and diverse computing platform. His success in the tech industry was not easy, as his second marriage failed, and the business faced financial challenges. Nevertheless, he managed to persuade commercial customers to accept the product. In 1983, he renamed the company Oracle, and there was no turning back. Larry Ellison’s story proves that with perseverance, determination, and the ability to think outside the box, anything is possible.

The Rise and Fall of Larry Ellison and Oracle

Larry Ellison, a visionary but not a great manager, founded Oracle and allocated most of the equity to himself. He had a reputation for making impulsive decisions and was easily threatened by competent employees. After Oracle faced significant losses, Ellison appointed a professional CFO, Jeff Henley, who transformed the company’s culture and imposed financial discipline. He also hired Ray Lane to head the salesforce, who eventually became the CEO and Oracle’s no.2 man. However, Lane’s grip on Oracle was firmer than Ellison, which threatened his position. Ellison fired Lane, and his company faced another failure with the release of Oracle 11i. Despite its numerous bugs, Ellison scrambled to present satisfied customers, and he found one in GE’s Power Systems division. However, the software didn’t work as promised due to customization issues, leading to Ellison’s arrogance to blame the consultant and customers for its failure.

Ellison on Tech Titans

In the book, Ellison takes on Bill Gates and IBM, criticizing them for various reasons. He claims Gates lacks creativity and has no sense of humor, while IBM has turned into a company that lies to customers. Ellison accuses Gates of bullying big companies and destroying innocent ones, such as Netscape. He also says that Gates’ software is awkward and tasteless. Ellison’s words undoubtedly caused a stir in the tech industry and shed light on the cutthroat competition among giants.

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