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The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: *God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison Paperback – November 11, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (November 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060008768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060008765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It seems like all of the biggest names in the computer industry are getting the celebrity bio treatment these days. But no corporate CEO deserves it more than Larry Ellison, the charismatic head of Oracle Corp. This isn't your standard, dry, "learn-from-his-example" type of life. It's not that Ellison's life doesn't offer the same lessons in hard-won business success as some of his colleague's, because it certainly does. It's just vastly more entertaining.

In The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison, author Mike Wilson delivers a fascinating and genuinely interesting portrayal of Silicon Valley's most notorious bad boy, constructed from hundreds of interviews with friends, colleagues, and those unfortunate enough to stand in Ellison's way. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes stories of the growth and worldwide success of Oracle, which Ellison founded in 1977. Plus, there's plenty of the good stuff: tales of Ellison's truly fast-lane lifestyle, filled with big boats, beautiful women, and celebrity friends. While this book probably won't transform you into a fan of Ellison's, you will be grateful for a chance to observe him--from a safe distance.

The punchline is "God doesn't think he's Larry Ellison," of course. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An authorized biography of Oracle's founder and brash billionaire leader. Ellison, the adopted son of a Jewish couple from Chicago, seems to specialize in reinventing himself. By all accounts, he grew up on middle-class South Shore Drive, but he has told reporters that he lived in the South Side ghetto. He was an uninspired student who never received a college degree but would maintain something of an obsession with the University of Chicago and imply he had an advanced degree in physics. Ellison is also an indifferent student of language but has arranged his home with all the trappings of a Japanese lord, and a few boats and helicopters to boot. These grand inconsistencies--delightful to some, horribly irritating to others, including many former employees--go a long way to explaining Ellison's unbelievable success at marketing his Oracle database software, used by thousands of companies. One employee, a devout Mormon named Rick Bennett, even considered his ubiquitous software akin to ``an instrument of God'' and believed Ellison pivotal to modern-day Mormonism. Wilson, an investigative reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, wisely focuses much of the attention on Ellison's one-sided feud with Bill Gates (who views Ellison as something of a gadfly but doesn't mention his name at all in his book, The Road Ahead) and documents his obsession nicely. He also does a fair job of explaining Ellison's vision for the NC, an inexpensive computer that provides quick access to the Internet and stores all of its software on a network server, rather than on a hard drive. While some in the computer business see the NC as the future computer for schools, many others see it as a $500 empty box and a poor attempt to topple Microsoft. While the title is the funniest line of the book, this is an engaging, humanizing look at a Silicon Valley megalomaniac. (8 pages b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

One funny thing happened soon after I finished the book.
slang1@hotmail.com
The author tried the address the book as a novel, skipping around in time and making it difficult to follow.
Bert
It's really a funny book to me when I try to learn more about this Silicon Valley outspoken playboy.
Kwok Ching Kwong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bert on March 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's a very good book in terms of the history of the computing giants that shaped the world. It kept my attention long enough to dedicate 2 days to reading it cover to cover. As an Oracle programmer, it helped me understand some of the thoughts I had of the company since working with their product since the early 90's.

The author tried the address the book as a novel, skipping around in time and making it difficult to follow. You go from 1977 to 1989 to 1991 to 1984 to 1996 to ... (you get what I mean). Confusing.

This is the type of book that needed to be more linear in timeline or overlapping in timeline, but not arranged the way it was. Still, very enjoyable and worth the read for those that enjoy the behind the scenes action that shaped technology as we know it today.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rajames@uk.oracle.com on September 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Yes, I liked it. As an Oracle UK employee it filled in information on many of the myths that float around the company. It would make good reading for anyone who would like to get an insight into what drives Larry and how he views himself (and wants others to view him as well).
The book is well written but compared to other biographies that I have read, does not capture and hold the reader. I found some of the chapters very hard going (particularly the discussions of in depth finance) but others held my attention well.
The book is worth reading merely for the information that it contains from realtives, friends and even interviews with Larry.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Aero Nut on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found out about this book in an Oracle training class two years ago but put off reading it until now. THIS BOOK KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF! The most fascinating thing about this story was that I had witnessed almost all the book's events in my own experiences working for other high-tech startup companies here in the Denver area. I was constantly saying to myself, as I read, "That's exactly what happened when I was working at (fill in the blank) Inc!". The same personalities (some even worse), the same marketing pressures, the same technical problems, the same product support problems, the same legal problems, the same IPOs, and some of the same rewards (but I didn't receive as many stock options ;^).
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any (technical) person who is considering working for a high-tech startup for the first time. This is the greatest and most accurate tale (at least in my experience) that is available of day-to-day life in a startup company. Some of the stuff that happens at these types of companies is SO WEIRD that you usually have to see it for yourself to believe it. This book gives a VERY GOOD look at "the weird stuff".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JackMetal on March 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I always recommend this book to people starting their own firms when they ask me what they should do to build their business. I like this book because it gives a glimpse at what really goes on out there instead of motivational BS so many books throw around. Before Oracle, Larry was working at another firm but he wanted to set up his own company. He stayed at his job but rented an office in the same building to launch his own firm at the same time without telling anybody. I thought that was brilliant. He would ride the elevator a few floors to his own firm but still have access to the resources of the larger company while maintaining his salary and building his business the whole time.

Academics are always shocked when I mention what really goes on in the business world and this book gives an up close look.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having worked for Oracle as a technical support rep, back when there were only five of us in the US and seven worldwide (we kept our support database on paper because the database was too slow and prone to corruption!), I too recommend book.
"The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison" is a 'must-read' for anyone considering buying a relational database management system, working in the industry, or for anyone who is simply wants to mercilessly crush their competition with mediocre products and high pressure sales tactics. Larry Ellison makes Machievelli look like Saint Francis. However, like Ghengis Khan, you have to admire his accomplishments.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Remember Igor? The ever faithful servant of the Dr. Frankenstein: "Yes, Master. Yes Master." Well, the reader gets the disturbing, yet comical, feeling that Mike Wilson is playing the literary Igor to the real-life success story of software mogul Larry Ellison.
From the title onward, the disjunctive narrative is generously sprinkled with Wilson's "Yes, Master. Yes, Master." rationalizations and cooing adorations of Ellison. Be it Ellison's incessant prevarications and half-truths or be it Ellison's extravagant lifestyle, Wilson cannot even pretend to be objective about his subject.
This Igor-like devotion to Mr. Ellison, strains the credibility of the writer and the sensibilities of the reader if taken seriously. It should be obvious to Mr. Wilson, that the story of how Ellision made his billions in the software industry is one which worthy of being reported and one which people would want to read.
However, if the reader can suspend his/her annoyance at the predictably unctious and serflike writing style, the tale of Larry Ellison and Oracle's rise is one which unfolds with the all classical ingredients of the business start-up tale. There was the complementary business partnership between Ellison's marketing wizardry and Bob Miner's technical genius. There was the bit of luck that the entrepreneurs were able to bring IBM's own relational database research to market before IBM and parlay that into lucrative government sales. There were the problems with hyper growth and consequent setbacks, as well as Oracle's resilient comeback from apparent failure.
All in all, the subject matter manages to carry this software success story despite the narrator. Just a suggestion Mr. Ellison. The next time you commission an authorized biography about yourself, leave Igor behind. Check if Wallace and Erickson are available.
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