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Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth About Oracle and Larry Ellison Hardcover – November 11, 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Southwick, a veteran Silicon Valley observer and author of several books (including Silicon Gold Rush), offers a detailed look at Larry Ellison, who created Oracle software. Ellison is one of only a handful of computer pioneers still heading a high-tech company. Southwick praises Ellison's innovation and business skills, but is far more critical of his management style and interpersonal skills. In fact, much of the book is devoted to chronicling horror stories from former employees. Even people who thought they had "worked well together" with Ellison are fired or, more usually, made to feel so uncomfortable that they choose to leave. "Ellison lavishes opportunities upon his favored executives-giving them almost free rein to grow-until he tires of them for one reason or another, or feels threatened by them, and finds a way to get rid of them," writes Southwick. With so many interviews-many quite bitter-with former Oracle employees, the author provides an in-depth look at the company and insights into its business strategies. For example, in a discussion on promotion, she notes, "Oracle's marketing campaigns are unusual in the technology industry in that they directly assail competitors." Ellison emerges as an innovative and smart businessman, albeit unlikable.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

One imagines that Larry Ellison, creator and leader of Oracle, the second largest technology company in the world (second only to Microsoft), would want to swiftly perform a kind of magical 'Ctrl Alt Delete' keystroke and have this book - and its author - permanently deleted from the planet. But he can't, so in Everyone Else Must Fail we have a no-holds barred account of how one man rose from the proverbial lowly roots - he was born to a single mother and given away to relatives - and ended up running a corporate giant, antagonising just about everyone he worked with in the process. It's easy to think of one customer for it: a certain William Gates of Seattle, perhaps? --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (November 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609610694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609610695
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,764,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Arram Sabeti on January 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Larry Ellison has done bad things: abused his employees, slept with subordinates, lied about competitors, etc, etc. Once we've got that out of the way, we can get on to a more interesting topic: how he built one of the world's greatest technology companies.

Unfortunately, Ms. Southwick carries her righteous indignation through all 320 pages with asinine editorializations and armchair psychology. She never misses a chance to bash Larry and Oracle, which according to her, is constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe because of Ellison's mismanagement. Here's the closing paragraph:

"We watch with open mouth as Ellison zooms ever closer to the edge, waiting for the moment when he goes over. For he has been a wildly entertaining performer, and we applaud him for that, even as we mourn how much more he could have been."

It's been ten years since the book came out. Oracle's stock price has nearly tripled. Not bad for a company with over a hundred billion market cap. Seriously, his company is worth over $100B and he's a tragic figure because he didn't do better? Ms. Southwick reminds me of the High Expectations Asian Father meme. "You start $100B company? Why not $200B?!"

She also states as obvious predictions about the future that even the best and brightest in technology can't be sure of, suggesting that Oracle is foolish for not taking them for granted.

Despite this, because it's well researched and the source material is so good, the book is still a great read. Oracle comes across as a brutal place to work, and I don't envy the people there, but the fact that so many successful companies have been started by alumni is telling: Salesforce, Siebel, Netsuite. Larry might be harsh master, but he teaches some strong kung fu.
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Format: Hardcover
This account of the politics and actions of Oracle presents the reader with a ton of great material - insider reports, odd tidbits, lots of interview material with the main cast of characters from Lane on down. But it presents all the material with such unfamiliarity with the world of enterprise software that it is almost unreadable. The author's account chastises Oracle for being hard to work with citing examples of botched projects, wasted IT funds, and non-working products - Hey, enterprise applications are tough, really tough. Numerous comparisons are made to other companies (e.g. PSFT, SAP, etc), but the propaganda of the other companies is taken verbatim and the bad light is shined on Oracle. Let's face it all software companies --- all companies for that matter -- have happy customers and really pissed off customers. Oracle is different only in that they rarely admit to any wrong doing.
But the above does not stop one from reading the really interesting stuff that the author has dug up - it is the unbearable amateurish writing style of the author that really will end up driving you crazy by the end of the book. She just keeps repeating herself over and over again it drove me crazy. Ad did I tell you that she just keeps repeating herself over and over again. And then he said "She just keeps repeating herself over and over again." Message to author: your readers got it the first time around.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used to work for Oracle (although not directly for Larry) and so I naturally had an interest in this book. There are lots of juicy stories about Larry's larger than life style and overall, it was an enjoyable read
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find the character of Larry Ellison very interesting but this book is dedicated to bashing him in spite of his success at Oracle. If this were the only fault it would be fine, but as others have said, this is a very poorly written book. Move on...
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Format: Hardcover
"Everyone else must fail" by book by Karen Southwick is a must read if you want an example of how the goddess of luck favors those who grab their opportunities. When Oracle cofounders Ellison, Miner and Oates land a consulting assignment to feed themselves they know they can spend some time building a relational database without having to worry about their bread and butter.

A few decades later 98 of the top 100 companies in the world would use Oracle software in their businesses. This well researched book gives us inside glimpses of a company which overcame the growing pains of crossing the billion dollar mark, faced bankruptcy, shot itself in the foot with insensitive customer support and successfully completed the largest acquisition in the enterprise software industry. The author also tracks the maturing of the relational database, middleware and enterprise application business. If you want to understand technology trends especially those in the enterprise application industry, grab this opportunity to educate yourself. This is one of the best I've seen on Oracle thus far. I wonder whether anyone will have the energy to write another!!
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By A Customer on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has done an exemplary job of interviewing the right people that can give an accurate picture of what is going on inside Oracle and with Ellison. On most subjects she was right on target. The situation is actually even worse than presented in the book given my years experience as an employee. Oracle could have been the IBM of the software world if only Ellison could listen and work with his managers. What he did was to destroy one of the most successful management teams of the 90's and totally ignore what customers and partners have been telling him. If this does not change, it is curtains for Oracle.
Ms. Southwick should be complimented for being brave enough to take on these subjects and report them in a clear and understandable way.
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