Lawrence Joseph Ellison / b. 1944 / New York, USA / Computer Engineer, Entrepreneur, Investor, Co-Founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation
Really great blogs do not take the place of great microprocessors. Great blogs do not replace great software. Lots and lots of blogs does not replace lots and lots of sales.Reported by Jim Finkle in “Special Report: Can that guy in Ironman 2 whip IBM in real life?,” reuters.com, May 12, 2010.
. . . when people start telling you that you’re crazy, you just might be on to the most important innovation in your life.Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
. . . in a constantly changing world, what is possible is a moving target.Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
Ellison on Ellison
When I started Oracle, what I wanted to do was to create an environment where I would enjoy working. That was my primary goal. Sure, I wanted to make a living. I certainly never expected to become rich, certainly not this rich. I mean, rich does not even describe this. This is surreal.Interview, Oral and Visual Histories, Smithsonian Institution, October 24, 1995.
I had all the disadvantages necessary for success.Interview with Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business, youtube.com, October 25, 2018.
My dream was to go to the USC Medical School, get married, raise a family, and practice medicine in Los Angeles.Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
I just could not make myself study something that didn’t interest me. At the time, I thought I lacked discipline and that I was selfish. Maybe so. But whatever the underlying reason, I was unable to make myself into the person that I thought I should be. So, I decided to stop trying. I was 21 years old when I dropped out of college . . .Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
My work week is down to 50 hours—I work less. In the beginning it was insane, I would leave the office at [1am]. I’m too old to do that.
I still sail competitively—I’m not too old to sail. I like to spend time with my family, I read I lot, I sail and play tennis and play basketball. I spend a lot of time at Oracle thinking about things. Thinking through all the open source stuff is something we’ve done relatively recently—making sure we understand what all the implications are. Is it disruptive, is it a risk, how do we respond to it, can it hurt us, how can we take advantage of it?Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Q: So have you thought about retiring?
A: I love my job. I don’t need the money.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Microsoft doesn’t adhere to standards. This is an Achilles heel—IBM in the early days wasn’t standards-based, Microsoft isn’t standards-based. The biggest companies, the leaders—IBM in the old days, Microsoft now, SAP now—think they can set their own standards. It’s really an interesting element of hubris. Being number one, you think the rules don’t quite apply to you. We became number one in database, but always based on standards. We don’t think we can compete outside of the area of standards.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Q: Why have companies in many cases got less benefit from their information systems than they expected during the period of big technology spending in the 1990s?
A: Companies are still using information in a siloed away. The information inside companies is fragmented in so many separate databases, so many separate systems.
The trouble is, large organisations are themselves divisionalised and fragmented. If you look at some of these large companies that grew as a result of acquisition, they never threw away the old systems, they never really integrated the businesses. When a company like Citibank wants to ask, who are my customers, that’s really in lots and lots of systems. Each one of those businesses is run by a different general manager. Each of those people makes a decision about what sort of systems he or she wants in the division.
It’s really astounding, the organisational complexity of these big companies, which devolves into systems complexity. To unify all this is not really a technology issue, it’s an organisational issue. How much do you want to unify your organisation? There are very few companies with very strong centralised leadership that will mandate these things. Most large companies are highly decentralised. . . .
These problems tend to be self-correcting—the inefficient operators tend to disappear. But it’s not merely a systems issue, it’s a corporate culture issue, its an organisational operations issue. But gradually we’re going to move towards these modern information systems—it’s just going to take a whole lot longer than I ever imagined.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Q: When will companies get more radical in overhauling their systems?
A: It’s going to happen when the risks of not doing something are greater than the risks of doing something. In a lot of industries, it’s too risky to do nothing. Telecoms, for instance, is changing so much—the wireline business is declining so rapidly—if you’re not moving aggressively into wireless, you’re putting your business at risk. They’ve got to be in those businesses, it’s too risky not to.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
If the Internet turns out not to be the future of computing, we’re toast. But if it is, we’re golden.Reported by Jeff Sweat in “Oracle’s Talking: Should You Be Listening?,” informationweek.com, February 7, 2000.
Open Source Software
If an open source product gets good enough, we’ll simply take it. . . . the great thing about open source is nobody owns it—a company like Oracle is free to take it for nothing, include it in our products and charge for support, and that’s what we’ll do. So it is not disruptive at all—you have to find places to add value. Once open source gets good enough, competing with it would be insane. . . . We don’t have to fight open source, we have to exploit open source.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part One),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Twenty minutes compared to never, that’s a lot.Reported in “Ellison: Oracle remains unbreakable,” CNN, January 21, 2002.
Q: Where do you go from here?
A: We want to make sure we beat Amazon in cloud database. . . . It’s very simple. It’s just like playing basketball. If you’re playing basketball, you want to beat the Warriors, you want to win the championship. So, our job—we have the best database in the world, we’ve got to deliver it in the context of a cloud that’s as easy to use as Amazon, but secure.Interview with Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business, youtube.com, October 25, 2018.
I hate the PC, with a passion.Cited in the documentary film, The Triumph of the Nerds, directed by Paul Sen (VHS format, 1996; DVD format 2002).
It’s Microsoft versus mankind, with Microsoft having only a slight lead.Reported by Kara Swisher in “The Company Therapist Message Board (Closed),” Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1998.
The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is [cloud computing]? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?Speech, Oracle OpenWorld, reported in “Oracle’s Ellison nails cloud computing,” cnet.com, September 26, 2008.
Philosophy of Life
You cannot measure a man by his riches but by the quality of the woman holding his hand.Reported by Avra Amar Filion in The Ellison Effect (2014).
Great achievers are driven, not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure.Attribution unconfirmed.
“The moral high ground,” I said [to Steve Jobs], “well that just might be the most expensive real estate on earth.”Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
. . . deep inside of all of us—all of us—there’s a primal desire to do something important with our lives.Commencement address, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2016.
The more of the footprint we have, the happier customers are, up to the point where they say, “Gee Oracle, you’re all over the place.” As long as we do a good job and we don’t price gouge them—that would be self-defeating. We make plenty of money now, we don’t need to gouge people on prices. In fact, the bigger we become, the more we can lower our prices. With volume comes the ability to lower price.Interview with Richard Waters, “FT interview with Larry Ellison (Part Two),” Financial Times, April 17, 2006.
Social and Political Issues
Modernization, socialization, and progression doesn’t alter nor permit discarding the morals and the laws one should abide themselves too.Reported by Avra Amar Filion in The Ellison Effect (2014).