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Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle Paperback – September 7, 2004
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Collaboration is very nearly the right word, as Ellison reviewed Symonds' manuscript before publication and, while he did not alter it, he did make a large number of comments, which appear in the book as footnotes. As Symonds is a good journalist who attributes most of his material, Ellison is able to take issue immediately with statements other people make about him and his company. The overall effect is hypertextual, and represents an important new biographical technique that other writers should imitate. Softwar succeeds because Ellison has a fantastically interesting life, tremendous experience, and carefully considered opinions, and because Symonds communicates them with clarity and style. --David Wall
Topics covered: The life, times, acquaintances, tastes, toys, and opinions of Larry Ellison, the database entrepreneur and CEO of Oracle Corporation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, its written by an independent observer-- Matthew Symonds of the Economist. While who can say whether this is truly an unbiased account, the vast majority of the book seems to portray Oracle in good light, but contains quips that allow the reader to see where all the Oracle detractors might have a point.
Second, Larry Ellison. When Symonds writes something or quotes someone (like Tom Siebel or other former employees) and Ellison disagrees, he gets to chime in and tell his side of the story through footnotes. After looking at so many books that just don't seem to have any proximity to Ellison, I chose this book mainly because you can get Ellison's rhetoric straight from the horses's mouth.
Third, if you read this book soon, the information will be more practical than books that seem to focus on interesting, but outdated info about a companies products or strategies. I personally knew nothing of Enterprise software or hardware other than hearing people complain about SAP. Now I at least have a semblence of knowledge about a field I'll probably end up at least working with.
If you want a book that puts Oracle in a good light while displaying its bad side at times and to hear mostly about Oracle with a brief biography of Ellison and how he commands the world's second largest software company, read it! PS I loved it.
In this book, Ellison comes over as one of the most insightful leaders in SV in the 80s and 90s. I wasn't always able to see this side of him, as I kept hearing negative reports from those who had been subjected to his (earlier, and admitted by him in this book to have been wrong) MBR (management by ridicule) approach.
I believe Symonds has done an accurate evaluation of Ellison, and Ellison, in his footnotes, comes over as a thoughtful person able to admit where he was wrong.
Firstly, Symonds is not objective - he clearly worked very closely with Ellison and certainly paints a more rosy picture of the complicated man than a more impartial observer may. Secondly, the structure of the book is lacking. The first section of the book (although it is not actually divided as a section) covers Ellison's business life chronoligically and perhaps in too detailed a manner to always remain interesting (there's an alphabet soup of executive names that are never heard from again). Then what I would consider the second section of the book jumps around from business to personal ventures and lacks a real 'feeling of time'. A more traditional fully integrated narrative of the personal and business sides to Ellison's life would perhaps have been superior since it's difficult to gage how much pressures in one area of Ellison's life are affecting the other.
Even with its flaws, Softwar is well written and comes as close to being autobiographical as a non-autobiography can. The subject himself is certainly interesting enough to warrant the 500 pages, and the unique response format is refreshing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Though this book is a couple of years old, it is still a fascinating look at Ellison and Oracle. The author had extensive access to the subjects, and though he occasionally spends... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Elteto
Full disclosure requires me to report, at the outset of this review, that I had the privilege to work for Larry Ellison and Oracle Corporation back in the mid to late 80's. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael Tozer
I always wanted to read this book, and now a decade later I finally get to it...
- There's some great reporting embedded in what is really a ~500 page PR... Read more
Incredibly informative and well written. A pleasure to read.Published 9 months ago by Honesty for Bezos
An interesting read, and certainly gave me new insights into Larry Ellison and Oracle. But the same insights and a more compelling could have been told in a book that was a third... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jim W
Larry Ellison is one of the most interesting technology executives. He has an amazing life and was a close friend of Steve Jobs. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer