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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.
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if you read this book soon, the information will be more practical than books that seem to focus on interesting, but outdated info about a companies products or strategies.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 unique, remarkable, and truly excellent book, Matthew Symonds captures, as well as a journalist could, what an amazing man Mr. Ellison is, and what an amazing company he founded and led to unbelievable success. Symonds also gives a truly special look inside the mind and character of the enigmatic founder of this software colossus.
Currently, I am working on a book on the Relational Model for Database. And I picked up this book by Symonds as part of my research. Having read "Softwar", I am well prepared to describe, with awe, the remarkable role that Mr. Larry Ellison played in making Dr. E.F. Codd's dream a reality. Indeed, as Codd provided the theoretical foundation for the Relational Model for Database, and fought valiantly for its acceptance, even unto his death, Ellison probably merits more credit than any particular human being for making the Relational Model a commercial reality, and success.
A common theme occurs throughout this wonderful book. The theme is that programmers, of which Larry Ellison is certainly one, are constantly playing the game of "I'm Smarter than You" whenever locked in technical debate. One of the reasons that Ellison is so disliked by many uninformed observers in the industry is that he nearly always won that game. And that sort of unparalleled excellence always seems to become the object of jealousy.
I strongly recommend this excellent book to any who would understand both Mr. Ellison and the history of his amazing company. God bless.
- There's some great reporting embedded in what is really a ~500 page PR piece for Ellison
- The Ray Lane story was worth the read
- Ellison at the emergence of the Internet and struggling (like others) to see the future is a great historical read
- Giving the subject of your book permission to have a running commentary on the bottom of each page of your text, makes a mockery of the word journalist. (Doubly so because Ellison's commentary was unnecessary and extraneous. It added nothing to the story. It only proved how badly he compromised the author.)
- The book was in desperate need of an editor. It has periods of true reporting sandwiched in-between verbatim transcripts of Ellison position papers. Easily could have been 1/2 the size and twice as good.
- Tons of tactical details about: Ellison firing execs, defending Ron Wahl is spite of overwhelming evidence of incompetence, management by parachuting in, management only in crisis,etc. but none of this gets put into a coherent description of 1) who is Larry Ellison, 2) why given the permanent dysfunction of the company did it and he succeed. If there ever was a great example of "can't see the forest for the trees" reporting, this book is it.
- The whitewash of the Oracle contracting scandal with the State of California is a great example of when reporters become PR flacks of their subject. The author spent 3 years with Ellison and couldn't conclude "of course Oracle was pushing the edge?" A reporter would have asked if the "sales at any price" culture that almost killed the company in the 1990's had returned. A comprised flak rationalized it.
- Three years with Ellison and Oracle and no summing up of how this talented and flawed human being built the company
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, balanced the software war well with his personal life. I would love to read the sequel from the last decade.Published 1 month ago
My first book about Larry Ellison. The section on technology tends to be repetitive.Published 4 months ago by Vojtech Kouba
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 10 months ago by Elteto
Incredibly informative and well written. A pleasure to read.Published 15 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 15 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 16 months ago by Allan junker