John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Larry Ellison: Behind the Kimono

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has a mythology worthy of Edith Hamilton, full of corporate conquest, danger at sea and the odd fountain of youth quest, so Bloomberg Television’s “Game Changers” feature on him tonight sounds quite promising. Certainly, there’s fodder–and photos–enough for a fascinating “Behind the Music”-style examination of the swashbuckling, trash-talking Samurai CEO–these remarks from some folks close to him, for example.

  • Stuart Feigin, Oracle employee No. 5:

    “There was no version 1 [of Oracle software] because everyone thought, well, no one buys version 1, it’s buggy. So we started with a version 2. Well, our version two was at least as buggy as anyone’s version 1…And I describe those early versions as the roach motel of databases. The data went in, but it didn’t come out.”

    “For some reason Larry told the Bank of America, I think he told them there were 15 of us when in fact there were five of us. Now I’m not sure why the Bank of America would think differently of you if you’re 5 or 15, but Larry had given them a number, which was a little larger than reality.”

  • Bruce Scott, Oracle co-founder:
    “I remember him very distinctly telling me one time: Bruce, we can’t be successful unless we lie to customers.”

    “All the things that you would read in books of somebody being a leader, he wasn’t. But he was tenacious; he would never give up on anything.”

  • Gary Bloom, former Oracle EVP

    “I have a theory that Larry’s succession plan for Oracle is he is trying to figure out a way that when he’s six feet under in a grave, he can still run Oracle.”

Sadly missing from the broadcast, my favorite Ellison story/folktale of all time: Back in 1999, he had an enormous boulder installed in the master bathroom at Sanbashi, his Samurai-style home in Woodside, Calif. Ellison reportedly “auditioned” several boulders, pretending to shower in front of them, before settling on the 30-ton stone that would become his “shower rock.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus